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Month in Review and December Goals

Emma, Johnny, and Lily admire the Christmas tree with my sister E

Emma, Johnny, and Lily admire the Christmas tree with my sister E.

See how our tree has decorations on it? It doesn’t look like that any more – at least the first three feet of it don’t. My kids think our Christmas tree decorations are their newest toys, and since all three kids now have Secret Hiding Places for their treasures, it sometimes takes a while before I find them again.

November was quite the month in our house. We played outside when it was warm and when I could get Emma to bundle up, and  I sent off one round of donations, and I’m in the process of going through the kids’ clothes to put together a second donation in December. I sent off several letters, and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner – everything but the cranberry relish and stuffing, which my sister brought (and which were delicious!) I made a skirt, and fleece pants for Emma and Lily. And, thanks to the magic of Mike goofing off while running away from the camera after setting the timer, we got another family photo where everyone is looking at the camera!

November was also full of the ups and downs of life. We enjoyed a wonderful visit to Cape Cod with Mike’s mom, sister, Grandma, two of his Grandma’s sisters, and one of his mom’s cousins. We said goodbye to Mike’s other Grandma. We will all miss her so much, and I am very grateful that Mike can fly out for the funeral. And yesterday morning my sister had her first baby – a healthy and beautiful baby boy! A couple unexpected events led to five of my parents’ ten children living in Utah as of this month. My parents realized that, if they wanted to get all ten of us together in the near future, it needed to be this Christmas. So the remaining five of us booked tickets, and we will all be together on Christmas day and for a few days afterwards. And we will be traveling with three young children in the middle of the holiday travel rush! What an adventure! Thankfully my sister E (who my children – and I – adore) lives near Boston and agreed to travel there and back with me and Mike, and my brother B (who also lives near Boston) will join us going one direction, so we will always have at least one adult per child!

December is going to be a busy month. Mike will be home for only 12 days out of the month, but we’ll be with him for some of the time he will be away. Johnny turns three, and besides the barely-planned birthday playdate we’ll be having, this means that he transfers out of early intervention into speech therapy through the public school system. I will really miss the wonderful lady who comes out to the house and plays with him (and Emma and Lily, so he can practice turn-taking and sharing) every week. I am happy that getting speech through the school system means we can end our LONG drives to private speech therapy each week, especially with winter weather rapidly approaching. We have a few days after Johnny’s birthday to pack before we leave for Utah. I don’t plan to bring along the kids’ presents, and I haven’t decided yet whether to celebrate at home before or after we leave – any opinions either way? I can’t decide whether it’s better for them to have new toys to play with while I pack or to have it as a nice way to transition from all the extra attention they’ll get with cousins and aunts and uncles and to keep them occupied while I unpack and wash mountains of laundry.

December goals:

  • Get as organized as possible before we leave so that our trip runs smoothly. Thank you to everyone who left comments with travel ideas in this post – I’ll be using many of your suggestions! Target Areas: peace and health
  • Enjoy time with family. Target Area: gratitude
  • Talk to the kids about all the family members they are going to meet. Target Areas: peace and education
  • Set up a play airport security station and play airplane travel in hopes of helping Johnny overcome his fear that the TSA is stealing his shoes forever when they x-ray them and to hopefully break his habit of falling apart during flights. Target Areas: peace and education
  • Donate the kids’ outgrown clothes. Target Areas: gratitude and charity

monthly goals at mama smiles

What are your goals for December?


  1. Elisa | blissfulE
  2. The Toy Box Years
  3. Mouse Grows Mouse Learns
  4. Transformations

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MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

12 thoughts on “Month in Review and December Goals”

  1. All 3 of your kids have special hiding places?!? Great! I thought I had a while before Leila would get one, but I guess she’ll probably copy her older siblings like Lily has. :) I’m fascinated to see how she’s already discovering new ways of getting into mischief that my other kids never did.

    I would think if you had your kids open presents before Christmas, they’d be entertained while you pack and then they’d also be really excited to get back to their new presents after vacation – so you’d get mileage out of them on both ends. Good luck!

  2. After that long comment, I realized I forgot to mention, Jesse is just tearing ornaments off of our tree left and right! The other kids are doing really good with it, but he is something:-)!!
    .-= Susana´s last blog ..Happy Thanksgiving! =-.

  3. First of all, I would save the gifts for when you get home if you can. I think they will help tremendously with the lack of attention as you said.

    I hope your trip is so much fun for all of you Mary Anne! How special and what fun to have your whole family together for Christmas. Will you see any of the sights like Temple Square while you are there? I haven’t been out West in 13 years now, but still remember the beauty of Temple Square at Christmas. One of these years Jamie and I plan to take the kids to Utah to see all of the historical sites. I love it out there.

    Congrats to your sister on her sweet baby!

    I hope all goes well with you at home while Mike is away this month. You are amazing Mary Anne! I hope this month is full of memories and fun time for you, Mike and the kids!
    .-= Susana´s last blog ..Happy Thanksgiving! =-.

  4. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog

    Wow, you do have a busy month ahead, and I hope the traveling goes smoothly — at least this time you won’t be outnumbered!! How wonderful that your family is able to get together for the holidays. I’m with Catherine, save a few gifts to open on the plane, or while you’re busy packing, and then open the rest once you get back. Have fun!! xoxo
    .-= Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog´s last blog ..Dove Garland =-.

  5. If you do gifts before the trip, the kids will probably want to take all their new toys with them, which could be problematic. Maybe give them one new toy each on the airplane and open the rest when you return?

  6. Wow – I can’t believe you will be on the road again, but how exciting that all the siblings will get together. Good luck with all the prep involved. I think I would give the gifts before – since I am sure that you will bring back some new toys too :)
    .-= Natalie´s last blog ..What My Child Is Reading – November 27- 2010 =-.

  7. Elisa | blissfulE

    You wrote so much information so clearly! What a month November has been for you, and what a month to come in December! Enjoy the family reunion, and I’m looking forward to pictures of Johnny’s airport security station. :)

    My opinion on gifts before or after Christmas, is to save the kids’ gifts until after. That will give all of you something to look forward to… besides mountains of laundry. :)
    .-= Elisa | blissfulE´s last blog ..month in review and December goals =-.

  8. That’s so great that you’ll have help during your Christmas travels. As for the tree… between four kids and three cats, none of the decorations on the bottom stay in one place for more than a day!
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..The Perfect Tree =-.

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