Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our Christmas Tree!

Our Christmas tree truly has a beautiful meaning behind each & every branch!

The tree itself was the first tree my mom purchased after separating from my Dad many years ago. Once I found out my mom was going to get rid of the tree, I told her that I wanted it for our house. This tree has truly seen its better days. Every year, Keith & I talk about buying a new one, but in my heart, I just can't bring myself to it! That tree holds so many memories for me! When I look at it now, I can still remember all the Christmas spent as a child in my mother's and grandmother's home...rushing down the stairs very early on Christmas morning just waiting to see what Santa left for us! As long as that tree is will always have a place in our home.

The green lights...I know you can not tell from the photos that are featured below, but our tree only have green lights on it (along with a few bubble candle lights). The first Christmas Keith & I spent together...many years ago...we were not in the same financial situation as we are in about three days before Christmas, some good friends of ours gave us a Christmas tree to use. Keith went out to purchase some lights for the tree and since we were on a tight budget, he picked up the ones that were on sale. When he came home and we opened the boxes up, I noticed that all the light bulbs were the same color. I than asked him which color did he buy & he replied that he purchased multi-colored lights. Knowing that they were not multi-color lights, I than had him plug them in...only to find that they weren't multi-colored at all....but all GREEN! We had a good laugh & decided to use them anyway, figuring that next year we would be able to purchased multi-colored lights. As the years went on, we never purchased any multi-colored lights, but purchased more strands of green ones. Every year when it comes time to put up the tree, Keith insists on going out to get some multi-colored light, but I tell him flat out "NO"! I know the tree looks crazy...the tree being green and than green lights on top of that...but every time I look at those green lights, it always takes me back to our little apartment in Manassas, Virginia that we spent our first Christmas in and how far we have come...

As for the ornaments, we have so many that we have collected over the years! I have a ton of them from my childhood and it is amazing how I remember who gave which ones (and of course I have my favorite that goes in the tree every year was from my Grandmother that she purchased for me from The Globe Store back in 1978). Keith has quiet a few too. Ranging from his favorite football team, The Redskins to his favorite Nascar driver. We also have some from our first Christmas together after we were married, many from our vacations, and ones from after buying our new home. Now the tradition continues with Francesca. She has ornaments stating her first Christmas and other ones that we purchased along the way during our travels (we even have a few from China when we were there back in November of 2005).

The Chinese Angel tree topper...I have always had a hand-crafted Santa that went on top of our tree that I purchased (OK splurged on) way before meeting Keith. It was proudly displayed on our tree every year...until the year Francesca came home. I wanted our tree topper to mean something to our family. So after many discussions, Keith and I decided on purchasing this Precious Moments Chinese Angel tree topper. We both felt it was the perfect choice and it truly looks beautiful on our tree (I just hope that the girls appreciate it when they get older and understand why we picked this special one).

As for the bubble candle lights...well that's an easy one...I always loved the way they add that little something "old-fashion" to the tree! I had to search high & low to find ones all the same color and when I did they only had two boxes left. So even though we don't have many of those bubble lights, they still add that something extra special to our tree every year!

I look at our tree and feel truly blessed! It holds so many memories for me from my childhood... and has made new memories for me with Keith and Francesca! It may be just a simple, old, worn out tree with green lights, but to is pure magic and I can't wait to be sharing it with Sofia too!

Our Christmas Tree!

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Our Chinese Angel Tree Topper...

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Keith's favorite ornament...given to us by my Aunt Mela on our first offical Christmas (yes it has a bride and groom on it with our names and date we were married)

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Francesca's favorite ornaments! She can't decide if Ariel is or the Tony Stewart ones. So since she couldn't decide, when she was placing them on the tree, she put them all together.

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My two favorite ornaments! The one my Grandmother gave me all those years ago (it is just a simple globe ornament with a wintery wonderland and a ice-skater on the inside) and the one that my sister gave to me a few years ago...the sister purse...that she too has the matching one displayed on her tree. (Noticed how I put them together as Keith is always telling, "Like mother, like daughter")

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One of the few ornaments we purchased when in China. I got this one when we went to Wal-Mart in Nanchang.

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I hope you enjoyed reading about our Chrismtas tree for I truly loved sharing the memories with all of you!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Finally...after a long battle with my laptop that dealt with needing a new hard drive and mother-board, I am finally back on line! I did loose all my stored information that I did have saved to my hard drive so I guess you can say I am starting from scratch. One of Keith's working associate is going to try & save some of my info from my old hard drive, but you just never know.

I do have some photos to share with you all...the first batch are from Francesca's swimming lessons. And the second are from my nephew's birthday party. I didn't take any over the Thanksgiving holiday, because I was still sulking over my computer (and as much as I hate to admit is still acting weird).

Swimming Lessons!

Getting ready to go in...
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Kicking my feet up & down in the water while holding onto the side...
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Getting ready to jump into the water...
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Scotty's Birthday Party!

Check out that face!
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Francesca and Scotty (wearing their matching Lighting McQueen hoodies) sharing some birthday cookies!

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(not sure why Francesca is now crying but I think it had something to do with Scotty trying to take her cookie away)

As of this weekend, we were able to get all of our Christmas decorations put out, including our Christmas tree (which Francesca had a blast doing this year) and outdoor decorations as well. Francesca is a totally different little girl this year compared to last year. Even though she still doesn't want to see Santa, she really wants him to come by the house Christmas Eve while she is sleeping to leave her some presents. She has even given me a idea of what she wants this year (she has been asking me for a Tony Stewart race car, Belle Doll, Princes Aurora Doll, Jasmine Doll, and princess slippers). She is getting more & more excited every day. I wish I had more to tell you right now, but my mind is at a blank. I am sure that over the next few days, I'll have much more stories and photos to share.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was one that we will remember for always!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Still Counting....


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Still No Computer...UGH!

I just wanted to let you all know that I still don't have my laptop up & running! It is totally frustrating when I was so used to hopping on my computer anytime & do what I needed to do. I feel so out-of-touch with everyone who I have "talked to and become friends with" through my computer. There is some good news...Dell finally came yesterday to replace my hard drive & mother board, but now it is just a matter of me finding the time to reinstall everything! And on top of all of this, Francesca and I are traveling to DC this weekend to meet up with Keith & spend some time with his family before the holidays...and our roof is leaking very badly...and with Keith working until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, our roof won't get get fixed until than...I feel like my life is spinning out of control (and yes, I do know that there are people out there that have it a lot worse than I do, but I am not one to handle stress...especially when it is compounded...very well).

Anyway, on a much better note, Francesca did great at her swimming lessons this past Saturday & we all had a wonderful time at my nephew's 2nd birthday party! I am hoping that I'll be back on line by the end of next week...we shall see.....

Until than, I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving & I can't wait to be able to get back on line & check out what all you guys have been up to!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I can't believe it has been TWO YEARS already....

Where does the time go....On this day, November 8th, Lin Gui Mei (who is now known as Francesca Mei) was placed in my arms around 4pm China time at the Civil Affairs office in Nanchang. It was truly a moment that will forever live in our hearts! She is a true blessing! Here is a photo of our Gotcha Moment! Mommy & Daddy are just beaming, while Francesca is screaming her head off!

Let's just hope that Sofia is a little more receptive to us when her Gotcha Day comes around! But even if she too is screaming just like her sister did...that is perfectly fine with us (at least we know now how to handle it). Without making you wait any is our 1st official family photo!

The Leonard Family!

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Like I said, it was a day forever etched in our hearts!

I am going to be away from my laptop the next few days (not by choice). For some reason, the darn thing went hay-wire on me yesterday and after having the "professionals" look at seems my mother-board & hard drive are shot! (Thank God my Mom is kind enough to let me use hers while I visited today). Since I have a Dell, I have to wait unitl a tech comes to our house and installs what is needed...and according to Dell, it won't be until next week...yikes! It is driving me nuts not having my laptop available & the sooner it gets fixed the better. So if you really need to reach me, you'll have to do it the old-fashion way...calling me on the phone.

This coming weekend I was hoping to post photos of Francesca's first day at her swimming lessons and my nephew's birthday party, but as soon as I get my laptop up & running, you can be sure I'll have lots of photos to please check back later next week!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Linda's Peanut Butter Cookies!

This is something I must share with you all....

I just got a chance to try Linda's Peanut Butter cookies recipe & let me tell you...they are fabulous and super easy to make! Way to go Linda! Hats off to you & your recipe! (Thanks for sharing!)

You can find Linda's super easy recipe on her web blog at...

under Monday's October 22nd post. You got to check it out!

Monday, November 5, 2007

On November 5th 2005...

We were getting ready to leave for China! I can't believe that it has been TWO YEARS already! I remember not being able to sleep at all the night before & repacking our suitcase about thousand times (and there were still things I forgot to pack or wished I had more of....). Most of our family & friends were there for us as Keith & I boarded our first plane leaving our local airport for China. I remember taking on Airbourne tablet and having not read the the whole tablet in my mouth. Let's just say, foam was every where & my sister just looks at me & said..."Are you sure you can do this?" We than just looked at each other & starting laughing. It was the last thing that was said before boarding on that early morning...

Also, two years ago today was the first time we meet Amy & Owen at Chicago's airport. We hit it off instantly and it is amazing how our friendship has grown into true family love. I can never express what they mean to us!

(once we landed in China, it was also the first time I ever had my passport stamped.)

Our gotcha day was November please check back for photos of our darling Francesca.

Today is also a day that has me thinking about when we travel for Sofia. Seeing how it will be our second time doing it, I feel more prepared than when we were going for Francesca...I guess we'll just have to wait & see. (I just hope that our day for leaving for Sofia comes very soon....)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Francesca and I are in love...

with Astor chocolates!
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We first had a chance to try these tasty little treats while on our last visit to Disney. During our stay at the Grand Floridian, our room was stocked nightly with pieces of this chocolate & and from our first bite, we were hooked! (and me not being a chocolate-junkie...that's saying a lot). So when we got home, I checked out their web site and ordered some for our household. It has now become a tradition where Francesca & I would share one piece each, every afternoon of this mouth-watering, delicious chocolate. It is a moment of our day that I truly treasure.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

One day...Two Costumes! Happy Halloween!!!

Francesca started off her Halloween celebration with getting into her Minnie Mouse costume and heading off to school (that is only across the street and 4 houses down from our's) for not only a Halloween party, but a birthday party for one of her classmates, and a Halloween parade. Last year, her school had the Halloween parade, but I stayed inside our house & watch the kids go by...(I was so worried that Francesca would see me & start giving her teachers a hard time about wanting to come with me), but this year, I knew she would not give her teachers any problems. So, my mom, my aunt, & I waited until 11AM for the parade to start! Francesca was so excited to see us at her school, but was also so worried that I was taking her home before she got to do the parade. After reassuring her that she was going on the parade she went with her teachers. I can't tell you how proud I was of her.

All ready for the party at school....
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Going on the Halloween Parade...
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Here they come....
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Holding her teacher, Miss Nancy's hand!
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(the little Tiger in the wagon is Francesca's little friend, Charlie! She talks about him non-stop! Her teacher, Miss Nancy told me they are the best of buds...isn't that too stink'n cute!)

After the parade, I did pick her up from school and we all headed for lunch at our local cafe. (During the winter months, Francesca & I will walk here and enjoy a little something for breakfast...just the two of us! is actually only a few blocks away from our house.)

Enjoying some lunch at our local cafe with Grandma & Auntie!
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Last year, Francesca loved the fact of dressing up, but she did not like the fact of going to other peoples' houses and doing the 'trick or treat' I decided to take it slow this year with her. After she got up from her nap, I realized that her Minnie Mouse costume had chocolate on it & I didn't have time to wash I asked her, what she wanted to be. Her response was, "Mulan!". I thought for a minute & knew I had a Mulan costume that I won on ebay back in February for $5.25! It was a little big (I was saving it for next year), but I went ahead and put it on her. She looked beautiful! (I didn't have time to get her a white flower for her hair as Mulan has on in the movie, but the ones we had worked beautifully). With a little blush & lip stick...she was ready to go. I decided to take her over our neighbor's house and she did a great job! Than we went to a neighbor of her Aunt Lisa's house & again, did just wonderfully! Our last stop was to her Auntie's house...and of course...she did wonderfully! After that, we decided to go & get something to eat before going to see G.G. at the rehab center. I would have done more trick or treating at more houses, but I didn't want to push her too much! I know next year...she'll be 100% ready for hitting as many houses as she can! (and I can't wait!)

My beautiful Mulan!
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Here are some photos that were taken outside at Grandma's...
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(I know I said this about a million times before...but isn't she beautiful! She just takes me breath away!)

I hope you all had a wonderful & safe Halloween!

Now it is time for me to take down our Halloween decorations and put them all away & start taking out the Christmas ones! And yes, I am one of those people who decorate before Thanksgiving...let the Christmas season (at least in our house) begin....