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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Teaching Your Kids Not To Be Quitters

Categories: children

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Being a parent is a balancing act on so many levels. One area that I struggle the most with is knowing when to push my kids to persevere, and when to let them quit. I want them to be committed when they sign up for something, but I also want them to be able to bow out if they are in above their head. How do we know what the best choice is? It depends on the circumstances, of course.

My husband and I decided a few years ago that we would take up skiing as a family. I skied sporadically with friends as a teenager, and he’d never been on skis a day in his life, but there’s a ski hill less than an hour away from our house and it seemed like a sport we could enjoy as a family. We enrolled the kids (and us) in lessons and made our way to the hill for said lessons.


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Explaining Divorce To Your Kids

Categories: divorce, marriage

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My husband and I aren’t divorced — and never plan to divorce — but as my kids are getting older, they’ve become more aware that not all marriages stay intact. My parents have both been married multiple times, and some of their friends have parents who now live in two houses.

There have been questions about why people get divorced and I don’t have much of an answer, because I don’t know the story. What I do tell them is that there are times when people decide that breaking up is better for them than staying together. This leads to them asking if their Dad and I will get a divorce, to which we reply with an emphatic no. We’re committed to forever, and continually work on our marriage to keep it vibrant and alive. We share the same faith, the same values, the same sense of humor, and the same fierce love of our kids and our family of five.

This is where I’d love to hear from those of you who have gone through a divorce. What do you tell your kids when they ask? And what do you feel is the best response that I can give my kids when they ask, so that they can be sensitive with their friends whose parents are divorcing?

Dealing With The January Blahs

Categories: fitness, health

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November and December may involve the snow and cold, but Thanksgiving/Christmas/Whatever You Celebrate festivities can distract you from the gray weather outside. Once New Year’s is over, all that’s left is three (or five, depending where you live) months of snow and cold and cloudy skies. It can be rather depressing.

I have never been a fan of winter, which led to a few years where I struggled with S.A.D. I had one January day where I was unable to do anything other than sit. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do anything other than sit on the couch. I knew it was time to take action. Take action I did, and now I clap my hands with glee when the snow falls. (Truth.) Summer will always be my favorite season, but Winter no longer fills me with dread.

Here are a few ways to beat the January Blahs:


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Tips For Fighting Off Colds and Flu

Categories: children

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Having three kids of school age means that they spend five days a week in a petri dish of germs. When they were younger they tended to catch more bugs, but it’s gotten better as they’ve grown up. Part of it is due to the fact that they know to wash their hands, and part of it is because they’ve already had a number of the common colds and had built immunity.

I don’t like being sick because I don’t have time to be sick, and I don’t like my husband to get sick because it turns onto the dreaded Man Cold. Here are a few tips to fight off colds and flu that work for us to either stop us from catching anything or to temper the sickness so it’s not as bad as it could be.


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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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What’s Your Gift Limit For The Holidays?

Categories: children, holidays

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Christmas is only a few days away and while we believe that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, we also buy presents and fill stockings and have a “Santa present” for our kids. We have a chalkboard advent calendar that the kids cross off and a bowl of candy that they can take a piece from each day.

But let’s get back to the presents. It’s my natural inclination to buy my kids so much, because I love them so much, and for many years I thought that they should have a lot of gifts to open on Christmas morning. Then we had a few years where the mix of presents from us and their grandparents (and aunts and uncles) got to be ridiculous. It was a free-for-all and not at all what we want Christmas to be about.


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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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