Viewing category ‘family’

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.

How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday?

Categories: family

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My birthday is on January 20th — this coming Monday — and it’s an interesting time to have a birthday. The hype and excitement of the holiday season has come and gone and we’re left with a month that is grey all around. On top of the blah of January, the fact that I have a birthday only a few weeks after Christmas means that I get presents in a three-week period and then the rest of the year is a barren wasteland.

January is a month that hits many people upside the head with the fact that it is a crappy month. To combat this, I host a girls’ night at my house on the week of my birthday. It’s a potluck affair, with appetizers and desserts and wine. I don’t make it about me, but about having a fun night in a not-so-fun month. We talk and we laugh and we eat. It’s one of the highlights of my entire year.

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Family Resolutions For The New Year

Categories: children, family, holidays

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I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, and have been pretty vocal in the past about how I think they are dumb. Why rely on a new year to vow to make changes? I’m one who constantly assesses my life and make a commitment for change. After running my first half marathon in September, and reading about someone who runs six miles every day, I committed to upping my running routine. I run three days a week, with the minimum distance being 4 miles. One of those three runs was 6 miles long, and I committed to running six miles for two of those three runs. I told my readers my plan, and that held me accountable to stick to my goal. I’ve been doing that for two months now and I see no signs of it stopping.

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Fun Family Activities In The Winter

Categories: family, family activities, holidays

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Winter is in full force (Blizzards and ice storms and power outages, oh my!), but it doesn’t mean that your family is relegated to watching television or playing on electronics for the next four months. There are many things you can do outdoors, and have fun together while doing them.

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Where Our Family Christmas Traditions Came From

Categories: children, family, holiday, holidays

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Everyone has Christmas traditions, if they celebrate Christmas. When I married my husband, we discovered that we shared many of the same Christmas traditions, and created a few more of our own that we participate in with our family of five. With the Christmas season in full swing — and our kids at the age where they know what our traditions are, and look forward to them — I thought I’d share our family’s Christmas traditions.

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Fun Ways To Celebrate New Year’s As A Family

Categories: children, family, holidays

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New Year’s Eve is only a few weeks away! I say that with more enthusiasm than I feel, because I’ve never been one to go to big parties and stay up until midnight and blow noisemakers. In fact, I think the last time I stayed up until midnight on New Year’s was December 31, 1999, when (the crazy) people thought the world would end the second it became the year 2000.

That said, I love an excuse to get together with friends and family and celebrate. We usually have an appetizer/movie night with our family of five and have a great time and are in bed long before midnight. This year, both of my husband’s siblings will be here with their families and we’re going to have a bonfire and sled and play games and watch movies and then have a huge sleepover.

There are definitely some fun things to do with your family instead of paying through the nose for a babysitter and staying up past your bedtime:

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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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Getting a Pet: What To Know Before Expanding The Family Litter

Categories: family, pets

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When people ask what my family looks like, I tell them that I have three kids, two dogs, two cats, and one hundred chickens. Yes, really. The chickens are my husband’s deal, and live out in their run on our acreage, but the dogs and cats live in the house with us. I think that pets are a great addition to the family, but there are some not-so-positive things to think about when getting a dog or a cat.


1. Getting a puppy is like having a newborn. I’ve had three newborns and so I can say it with full authority. They are up multiple times in the night, they cry, and they don’t know to poop in the designated area. It can be exhausting, so maybe don’t get a puppy if you have a newborn in the house.

2. They need a lot of exercise. Well, maybe a purse-sized dog doesn’t, but we have a large dog (100 pounds) and a medium-sized dog. They need to walk and run and play.

3. They can’t be left alone. If you want to go away without them, you either need to get a dog sitter or put them up at a kennel. Neither is very cheap.


1. They are generally nocturnal. You get to the stage in your life when your kids all sleep through the night and it’s great. Then you get a kitten and she wants to pounce on your chest and pat your face at 4 a.m.

2. They bring you presents. No, not jewelry. Birds, mice, etc., and they’re often still alive. Wounded, but alive.

3. I can’t think of a number three, because the kitten we got in the spring has turned me into a cat lady.

There are many more positive factors about having dogs or cats, but those are a few downsides to consider. Did I miss any?

5 Fun Activities To Do As A Family

Categories: children, family, friends

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I wrote recently about ideas for being active as a family, but spending time together doesn’t have to always revolve around sports and exercise. We make family time a priority, and while sometimes it does involve hiking or running, we definitely don’t spend all of our time together getting our heart rates up.

Fall is here, and with it comes temperatures that make it more comfortable to be outside. I love summer — it’s my favorite — but when the temperature is in the high nineties, the only thing I want to do is go jump in a lake. Literally. Now that the sun has lost its sting, we’re excited to be both outside and inside without melting.

Here are some things that we like to do as a family in the cooler months:

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Happy Marriage = Happy Kids

Categories: communication, family, marriage

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My parents divorced when I was three, and the memory of my Dad driving away is one of the earliest memories that I have. My parents have been divorced (and married) a few times each, for different reasons, and I pass no judgment on them for their choices. That said, as a child, I wished that we could all be together as a family and hated that my Dad lived in a town three hours away from ours. He got us for holidays and summer break and random weekends, but it wasn’t the same as having him a few minutes away.

When I was single and wondering who I would marry, I prayed that I would find a man who was in it for forever. I met that man, and we’re still together over thirteen years later. While we state that divorce isn’t an option, that doesn’t mean that we plan to suffer together until we die. Our kids make faces when we hug or kiss, but we know they love it. They also know that they’ll have the two of us, together, for the rest of their lives.

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