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in pictures...


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Arissa w/ her gift from Santa....a cell phone:
(if you know her and she has your number, you will be getting calls & texts from her...she's so excited she can't help herself!)

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It's hard waiting your turn while the other's open their gifts:

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But oh it's worth it!
Santa brought Mariah the Dora the Explorer Kitchen she's been asking for repeatedly for at least 3 Christmases now:

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The adoption papers for Arissa's new Cabbage Patch doll:
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We went over to Grandma's for Christmas brunch, as we have every year since Arissa was born:

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Mariah, tellin' it like it is:

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Grandma, opening her Babushkas:

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After brunch we made a stop on our way home. And this was almost my favorite part of the day.

We stopped at a rest home to visit Mr. Mendoza. He is our elderly neighbor across the street, who I've posted about before. We don't really speak with him or know him, but the girls (and all of us) have come to love & care for him in the 8 years we've lived across from him. As I've posted about before, there's been several times when he's fallen and firetrucks, ambulances, and police cars filled our street while they helped him. One of those recent times, we made a sign when he came back from the hospital that said "Welcome Home, Mr. Mendoza! Love, the Howard Family" and the girls each drew on it and we hung it on his frontdoor screen.

It stayed there for months. After awhile I wasn't sure if he was keeping it there because he loved it, or because I had tied it on the screen too tight and he couldn't take it off. We still never really spoke to him or visited him, but one day he gave Jesse some donuts for us and told him "God bless you and your family".

In Early November, I thought it would be nice to bring him a piece of the pumpkin pie our family had enjoyed for dessert. Jesse and David (our neighbor) told me he wasn't the sweet old man I was assuming he was, and that and wouldn't appreciate help or a handout or a visit or my concern. But I went anyways and he invited me in and I helped him bring in mail from a week ago that he hadn't been able to bend down and pick up. I had felt uncomfortable at first, talking to someone I don't know, but he was very nice and sweet and I felt good about our visit for days.

Then a few days later he fell and was in the hospital and never came home. On Christmas Eve I did some detective work and was able to contact a family member of his, who told me which rest-home he was at.

So on Christmas day on our way home from Grandma's, we stopped by. We brought him a Christmas card w/ a picture of the girls, and some cookies. He didn't look very lively, but you could tell he was surprised and delighted to see us. It wasn't a long visit, but I hope it made him happy and we all felt good afterwards.

He told us: "I have 4 things to say.

1, God Bless Howard.

2, God bless Howard's wife.

3, God Bless Howard's little girls.

And 4, God Bless Howard's whole family.".

:O) How sweet is that.

Well after that we rushed home and Nana & Grandpa came over to give/receive their gifts and see what the girls had gotten for Christmas:

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After a nice visit with them, Uncle Jim, Nicole, and Grandma came over to deliver yet another gift!

And after that, exhausted and hungry, we went to the only place open on Christmas that you don't have to drive-thru: Denny's. :o)

Mallory and I fell asleep early....Jesse, Arissa, & Mariah stayed up till about 11pm playing with the gift that Santa had accidentally left outside and we didn't find until mid-afternoon: a wii. :o)

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