Monday, June 30, 2008


(the girls tasting the was way too cute!)

Katie and Francesca sharing some birthday cake at the rehab center with G.G. (It was Keith's Birthday on the 29th! Happy Birthday Honey!)

Francesca and Katie enjoying a ride in the #20 car...

Aunt Amy helping Francesca ride a 'big girl' bike...that is Katie's. Katie is riding Francesca's tricycle.


Uncle Owen, Aunt Amy, and Katie finally made it to PA on Saturday around 7:30PM and since than we have been having a blast! As most of you know, the relationship between our two families is truly "a red thread connection" that has lasted almost three years...since that first email between us mothers after receiving our referrals for our daughters ...than finding out that that both girls were from the same orphanage...and that we would be traveling together...and that our two families would be together for that truly special moment of holding our daughters for the very first time! The girls have really come into a friendship of sisterhood that we can not even understand. We, the Leonard's, are so totally blessed to have such wonderful & beautiful people in our lives....and the chance for Francesca and Katie to continue share that bond of their "sisterhood" that joined this friendship between two families from the beginning and is still growing...

I promise I'll have photos to post of the girls soon....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Life in Six Words..

I have been tagged by one of my wonderful blogger friends, Lisa at
The Long Road To China. Here is the task...Describe your life in only 6 words!

(I have to admit, when I first read the rules of this tag, I thought it would be a piece of cake, but it is way harder than I thought) mine goes....

Organizer...Overwhelming...CareTaker....Artist...Good Tipper.

This was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be when I first saw this tag, but after thinking about it, 'I think' I summed up my life the best that I could.

The Organizer is an easy one. I am just that type of person...everything around me must be organized! At times, this is not always easy for me because Keith is not the most organized person and he will admit he relies on me way too much . I handle 99% of everything that goes on in our family and home. You name it....I organize/handle it.

Overwhelming...seeing how I am living in PA while Keith is working in D.C. most of the week, my life does feel overwhelming at times. There are days that I am handling (and these are just a few), trying to be 'the wife', taking care of Francesca, running a smooth household, trying to be the best daughter I can be for my mom through this very difficult time with my grandma, my sister's cheerleader, a friend to many, great Avon rep (I bet you guys didn't know that one...I have been selling Avon since 2004 and my business has grown beyond my expectations), bill payer & check book balancer, which is a job I really don't want but being the organizer, I am better at it than Keith...and so much more! Boy, just thinking about all that, I am feeling a little 'overwhelmed'.

Caretaker...again another easy one. My family comes to mind first with this one. I wanted to list mother and wife, but the word 'caretaker' fits me better. I don't only care for my family, but I also try my best to help my mother, grandmother, sister, and all our friends. I try to help anyone and everyone who needs help from me...trying to be the one who takes care of everything.

Artist...As many of you know, I love to draw, paint, and create. Since bring Francesca home, I haven't focus on it as much as I would like to, but it is still so thrilling to see invitations come in the mail from all over the United States, inviting me to show one of my painting in their artist exhibit. I did do a gallery show here in NEPA about a year a ago after receiving an invitation and my piece sold for nice sum of money. I just wish I had more time to myself (and a room in our house to call my studio) to be able to do so....I miss it so.

Good Tipper...If it wasn't for my husband Keith, I would never be listing this as a label of my life. Keith believes in going above and beyond in 'the rule of tipping' and he does it in a way that makes everyone he tips feel like you have just done him this huge favor and he is so grateful for you taking the time to do so. It amazed me when I would watch him do this (because he is so not tacky about the whole thing) and I learned and became a good tipper as well (just ask our "Thursday night out" bar-tender, who takes excellent care of us). Keith also showed me that if you get good service, show them you enjoyed their service...leave a good tip!

Now here are 6 words for you that I just had to steel from Lisa's blog...because I too feel..

So Blessed To Have This Life!

And how true that statement is! There are days I want to so badly run in the other direction when life gets a little out-of-control, but knowing that I am so loved, needed, relied on, and living the life that I never thought possible (and having the best that I could ever ask for)...I am truly blessed!

Needing to tag 5 more mine go!

Sara at Football and Fried Rice

Colleen at The Crazy Eight

Sue at Biddle Bloggers

Linda at Parker's Paradise


Janelle at Wise Tails

Here are the need to describe your life in 6 back to me and tag 5 other people (Leave them a comment to let them know you tagged them)...It is that easy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

How can a mother loose her child? (bad mommy I am)

Trust me, I know all too good how it can happen because it happened TO ME! And worst of all, it took me over 5 hours to realize that my child was missing! How could this be? Am I that bad of a mother? Am I loosing it? What gives! Now before you start asking a ton of questions let me inform you that it....

...wasn't this one


It was THIS ONE!

Yes, that's right...Our big old Honey Bear decided to have a night out on the town Thursday night! What happen was after eating some supper and baking some goodies for our friends that will be coming here this weekend, my mom called me to see if Francesca wanted to spend the night. Of course Francesca's answer was up to Grandma's we went. Since it was only about 8PM when I left Grandma's to come back home, I figured I get our grocery shopping done, instead of doing it Friday morning. So grocery shopping is what I did! After an hour at the store, and the night sky being dark, I headed home. After putting away all the groceries and finishing up my baking, I went upstairs to put on my jammies and get ready for bed. When I walked into our bedroom, I turned on the AC and checked for Honey (he is usually in our bedroom or the living room). He wasn't there and I didn't think anything of it. When I went back down stairs, I finished cleaning up the kitchen and got ready to watch some TV. After sitting in the living room for about 5 minutes, I noticed that Honey wasn't there either. Now again, I didn't really start to panic. Sometimes, he gets behind the couch or hides upstairs in our spare room whenever we have a bad storm or some fireworks are going on (he doesn't like the noise and someone in our neighborhood has been lighting them off recently...all day long!). OK, after checking those places, and the rest of the house and still didn't find him (mind you, he is a 80lbs dog!) , I called our neighbors to see if they had seen him. As soon as my neighbor, Nancy heard what was happened, she jumped right into wanting to help. We meet outside and started the search. Up and down our street, alley way, and side streets...all the while calling out his name.. and still no Honey. My heart was breaking. I kept did China trust me with one of their own...and are going to trust me again...when I can't even keep track of a 14 year old dog, who is such a loving, easy-to-care for, lazy dog that is my baby! How might I ask? (I must have said this about a hundred times to Nancy while we were searching for him too). Anyway, after going around the block for the second time, I told her that I was going inside to go call the police to see if they knew anything. (my biggest fear was not of him being hit by a car, but someone seeing what a wonderful dog he is and keep him for themselves). Anyway, after talking to the police, I did find out that they did pick up my dog who was laying on someones front porch about 1/2 block from our house. The officer said she dropped him off at the Humane Society and I should call them in the morning to make arrangements to pick him up. Now mind you, it was now after 11PM at morning it would be!

9AM this morning I was at the Humane Society to bring Honey home. All the employees couldn't stop talking about him to me... all saying what a wonderful boy he was and how much he seem to be missing home. By 10AM, we were both back and sound.

I can't tell you what I was feeling throughout this whole mess! I can't begin to tell you how happy and relieved I was to hear that the police did pick up Honey and he was being taken care of...and I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to have him home.

I still am not sure what happened. I am not even sure when I left him outside in the yard (he only goes out after he I am thinking it was about 4:30PM....but something inside me is telling me that I let him back in. Oh, and another thing...our yard is fenced what happened)!

Now, that part about being a bad mommy....According to the HS, he arrived at their office at 5:30PM and I didn't notice he was missing until after 10PM....THAT'S 5 HOURS! 5 HOURS and I didn't notice that my dog wasn't around. I feel awful! And the best part of this whole thing is I can't remember when I let him outside! I know I am just beating myself up, but how can a mother loose her child! (I guess the answer to that one is...just ask me!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the book..."If You Give A Moose A Muffin"

by Laura Joffe Numeroff

"If you gave a moose a muffin, he'll want some jam to go with it. So you'll bring out some of your mother's homemade blackberry jam....

This is Francesca's favorite book! We read it at least two times a day and she has gotten to the point (because she knows the whole book by heart) of being able to quote lines from it throughout the day to just about anyone who will listen. This morning, after brushing her teeth, she asked me, "Mom can we make some muffins today like in the book and can you make some homemade blackberry jam?" Of course, my answer to this was "yes" so after her school today, we went to the store to get the muffin mix (as in the book) and the ingredients for the homemade blackberry jam. (thank God making homemade jam is one of things I do best...) As soon as we got home, she insisted we make the jam...which we did...and we got most of the muffins ready for baking before her quiet time down. I started baking the muffins about 10 minutes before she started waking up and as the smell of the muffins filled the house, Francesca came running down the stairs so excited...and couldn't wait to see the muffins. In her own words, she told me, "I smell those muffins and they smell so good, Mommy!". Anyway, after some time with them cooling on the baking rack and cheating a-little on the jam (it was supposed to sit for 24 hours before using), she and I had an afternoon snack of muffins with some homemade blackberry jam. She just loved I did too...and she can't wait until she wakes up tomorrow morning to have another....
(the muffins)
"They sure smell good!"
(the homemade blackberry jam)
"Can I have one, please Mommy?"
"And chances are...if you give him the jam, he'll want a muffin to go with it."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"A package in the mail for me!"

One day before we left for our trip to the beach, Francesca received a little package in the mail (that was waiting for her when she arrived home from school) from Auntie...while Auntie was vacationing in Florida.

A package for me!

What can it be?

Almost there...

Oh My Gosh!
It's a giant C.C. cookie (my favorite)!


Thanks Auntie for the awesome cookie! I just loved it!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Virginia Beach photos and more!

Here are some of the photos from our time down at Virginia Beach. We had such a great time!

At the Virginia Beach Aquarium....

Francesca and Mommy outside the aquarium with the harbor seals.

Francesca and some string rays....


The sea turtle was just enchanted with Francesca. Every where she moved, he followed. It was so cute!

Francesca and a shark (she was so excited to finally see a live shark - up close!)

Group Photo...
(Francesca, Grandma C, Mommy, and Papa minus Keith who was taking the photo)

On The Boardwalk....

Francesca and Daddy cooling off with some spray water.

Tomorrow we have our one and only meeting with our social worker for Sofia's home study update. I'll keep you all posted on how that goes....

And yesterday...
We drove the 6 hour trip (to and from) Philadelphia to get our fingerprints done. After the long ride, we came home and started getting our house and yard in order for....UNCLE OWEN, AUNT AMY, and KATIE who are coming here next week! We can't wait! It seems like forever since we last seen them and this time we will be seeing each other for a whole week! Francesca is already asking me, "When are Uncle Owen, Aunt Amy, and Katie coming?" "Will they be here tomorrow?" and "Are you going to get me up when they come?" (that is the question we got last night at bedtime). We love you guys and we can't wait to see you all!

Friday, June 20, 2008

As of today, it has been 14 months since...

...we have been officially LID with China for Sofia! And if you can believe it, as of August, it will be 2 years since we started this journey to Sofia. Poor Francesca is waiting so patiently for her little sister and she talks about her consistently. I am so praying we hear something soon... She is always in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. I can't begin to tell you how much we already love her.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

News on our Home Study Update!

We're Back....
After a very long drive, we finally made it home. I do have some photos to post of our time at the beach with Papa and Grandma C that I will be uploading sometime later this please check back.

While we were away, we received our notices from the US Immigration office to have our fingerprints done this Saturday at 9AM in Philadelphia and on Monday, we will be having our one and only follow-up interview with our social worker to get our home study update. We are still waiting on our police and child abuse clearances (which I sent out over a week ago) and our social worker has to send out some forms to our physician regarding our current health status. If all goes well, we should have this home study update all wrapped up within the next two weeks....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Did Honey tell her he was a little chilly?

As I was getting some stuff together for our trip coming up the end of this week to the Papa and Grandma C house at the beach...and running around the house like a mad woman...I went into our living room to check on Francesca, this is what I found her AND Honey doing (or should I say what she was doing to Honey)...


According to Francesca, he told her he was cold. Just look at his poor face! He puts up a lot with Miss Francesca.



(He is such a loving and wonderful dog. The whole time Francesca was "covering him up" he didn't move a muscle until she told him that she was done playing with him.) What a pair!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our Firemen Picnic...Cooper's again...and THE BEACH!

At the last minute on Friday night (after having a nice supper out), Francesca and I went to watch our local firemen's parade (which she wasn't too crazy Francesca's words, "Its too loud, Mommy!"). While we were waiting for the parade to start, we ran into our neighbors, Mary and her little boy, Gavin....and afterwards we all visited the carnival that our fire department also sponsor. Now, here is where she had all the fun! She couldn't get enough of the rides! (and they had plenty for the little ones)

Captain of the Boat!

Francesca and Gavin...the conductors!

She may not have like the sound of the fire trucks' horns but she sure love driving one!

Since Keith couldn't make it home this weekend, Francesca and I asked Grandma if she would like to join us out for lunch on Saturday and of course, Grandma said, "yes"! When we asked Francesca where she wanted to go, she said, "Coopers!" So, Coopers again it was (if you don't remember, we went their for our Mother's Day celebration and she just loved it). Again, we had such a great time!

Francesca and Grandma posing with the 'Shark"!

Francesca getting a little too friendly with the 'Shark" (she is just so interested in all kinds of sea-creatures especially sharks!)

***It has been so hot here in NEPA over the past few days that we really haven't been doing much playing around outside. So what do you do when it is HOT head to the BEACH! That's right...we are headed down to Papa and Grandma C beach house for visit. We are all so excited! I just hope Papa and Grandma C are ready for us! We are almost all packed up and ready to go. See you all when we get back!***

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Some weekday fun....

Francesca is such a funny little girl...always making some type of silly face or just doing something totally off the wall that makes us both crack up laughing. This is only one side of her personality. She is also such a caring and sharing little girl and still a little shy. But lately, Francesca has been very emotional. She has been crying at the drop of the hat and it is over the strangest things. I have been noticing 'this side of her' a lot over the past week so I am thinking it might have something to do with everything that has happen over the past two weeks...not to mention that her G.G. is back in the hospital as well (she is just such a sensitive little girl and is so in-tune with others' feelings that I think she knows exactly what has happen and what is going on...). So when Francesca starting acting silly the other day, I just had to catch it on film. It was so great to see her like this!

The other day, while we were getting ready for some lunch, Francesca was acting a little silly (which was so great to see).



This last photo was taken while I was on the phone (that same afternoon) and she was waiting for me to get her ready for her quiet time (it is really nap time, but we don't call it that anymore). When I went to check on her, this is what I found...
(I caught her checking herself out in the mirror and laughing at herself.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I love a good contest and Sofia's adoption update...

I have been trying to be really "good" about not spending money over the past few months (which I must say, I have been doing a great job of not 'shopping' as much). So when I hear about a great contest, where you can win something for free, sign me up. Just hop on over to Linda's blog at and check it out.

On the other topic...

We are still working with our social worker on our home study update. Actually, since he is not sure what needs to be done, he is waiting on the USCIS office to inform him of what is needed (this is the answer I got from him during our conversation this past Monday). So far, nothing. Since the passing of Keith's mom and being out of town, I wasn't able to focus on the situation at hand, but you can bet your bottom dollar (see...its that spending money thing again) that I will figure out today what needs to be done (even if we have to look into getting another social worker at this point which was suggested to us by our agency). I am at my wits-end over this!

(according to our agency, if we are not in the process of a home study update and our name is 'next' on the list...which it looks like it is coming up soon...we will not be match - so you can see why this home study update is SO important to us in getting it done! we did send in our application renewal of our I600a and I started the process of getting our state police and child abuse clearances...just to feel like at least I am doing something to help move this process along...)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thank You and some photos from our weekends away...

Keith, Francesca, and I...along with the rest of the Leonard family would like to Thank everyone who sent their thoughts and prayers to us during this very difficult time. The service was just beautiful and she will truly be missed by so many.

I do have a story to share with you all regarding this past weekend. During the service on Saturday, Keith sat up front with his sisters and brother, while Francesca and I sat a few rows back (I wasn't sure how she was going to be, which I had nothing to worry about because she was just so good). Anyway, as we were sitting there, she heard Keith crying and asked if she could go sit with him. I, of course, said "yes" and she got up, walked over to where Keith was sitting, got up onto his lap, took out a tissue from his pocket and starting drying his eyes. As soon as I saw what was going on, I starting crying my eyes out all over again. I can't begin to explain what a caring, loving, and emotional daughter we have and how tune-in she is to other's feelings. (there wasn't a dry eye in the place once this happen...)

As promised, I have some photos to share with you of our mini-trip to Peddler's Village and I also have a few photos from this past weekend.

Peddler's Village...

Daddy and Francesca on the merry-go-round.

Mommy and Francesca on the merry-go-round.
(she just loved the merry-go-round and I think she rode it about 15 times)

Mommy an Francesca enjoying some time in the sun.

Francesca checking out the rabbits, chickens, and rooster.

Trying to carry Mom's purse...

Unpacking...Francesca style!

One minute she's happy...

And the next, she is pouting.
(I just love this photo)

Francesca and Daddy checking out the ducks.

Sunday afternoon at Aunt Molly's...

Enjoying some pool time...

(check out those lips!)

Wearing Daddy's shades...she thinks she is too cool!


And after a long weekend of crying, laughing, sharing, and just spending some time with the ones we love...its bath time!

Again, thank you so very much for all your thoughts and prayers. I can't begin to tell you what a comfort every words was....