Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Family of Four!

Hi, this is Lisa, posting on behalf of Shelly and family!

Thought you all might want the first glimpse of the new family! Shelly, Keith, and Francesca were united with Annabelle just hours ago and have officially become a family of four....CONGRATULATIONS!

Just look at the joy on these faces.....

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one says it all!

Much love and best wishes to you all!

We can't wait to see you when you get home!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ready...Set...HERE WE GO!!!!

Here we are, the night before we leave for China and we are all just so excited! I just finished packing our last suitcase and laid out our clothes that we are wearing tomorrow. This week has been truly crazy for us, but after the limo picks us up at 10:30 tomorrow morning...all of that will be behind us as we start our journey to Annabelle. So I guess all there is left to say is "Night, Night...Sleep Tight" and next time we'll be seeing you all, we'll be in China!

Monday, October 13, 2008

You can still get in on the action!

As you all know, we are leaving on Thursday for our second journey to China for our darling daughter, Annabelle Faith! If you would like to follow us along in this amazing journey, our travel web site is...


child's first name: annabelle
child's last name: leonard

As for the password, you'll have to email me for that ;)

As for this past Sunday, I was able to get some stuff accomplished. I got Francesca's suitcase 100% packed, and I started packing ours. We did give Honey his well overdue bath, but we never got around to setting up Annabelle's bed or rearrange the girls' bedroom. I know I won't be getting too much done today for I have a manicure appointment at 10am and a hair appointment at 5pm and in between that I have a ton of running around (I still have a few things to pick up at the store for our trip...this is now trip #3). Oh ya and during all this Papa Keith and Grandma Shell babysat with our two grandkids last night while their parents enjoyed some time to themselves. (we had three kids...ages three and under...for a few hours...all I can say is that it was very interesting lol)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where is my weekend going...? (a little long)

OK, it is Sunday morning already and what have I accomplished this weekend...N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!!! (and still I so want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and "wish" that all that needs to be done is done before we leave on Thursday, but we all know that will never happen...) OK, I did get some things done that I wanted to (but not nearly as what was an my list...and yes, I am a "what I need to do" list gal)...I got Annabelle's suitcase 100% packed and ready to go...I did our laundry yesterday so I can pack most of our stuff today, or at least Francesca's stuff today...I ate 1/2 of dozen of Welsh cookies yesterday...and I spent most of the day, reading this great book by Lisa Jackson. I did also get some surprising news too yesterday, Keith's daughter, Amanda, her hubby Andy, and our two grand kids drove up from Virginia for a visit this weekend and I was also informed yesterday that we purchased a house in Derwood, Maryland. When Keith told me the news, I almost fell over! We have been talking about moving back to the D.C. area for some time now so Keith won't have that long drive home every weekend from D.C. and I guess over the course of the last few weeks, he and his boss finally found something "that was interesting". As soon as I heard the words, "we got a house!" all I kept thinking was - as the words flowed out of my hubby's mouth - you expect me to move with all that is going on! TG he saw the "look" on my face and he quickly explained that the house is first going to be totally remodeled before we even step foot into and since the remodeling will be starting by next week (yes, while we are in China), he is thinking it won't be until sometime next spring that we will be moving. I know some of you are probably wondering, "I can't believe her husband purchased a house without her even seeing it" and on that note, I do have to say, Keith knows a lot more about houses than I ever will (that's was he does). As for the remodeling, I trust him to make the best decisions that will work well with the lay out of the house (again, that is what he does) and he so knows what I like and what will work in our budget. The place right now looks nice, but since I know the work that my husband and his crew are capable of, I can see past all the "niceness" and see what it truly can be. It is on an acre of land with a fenced in yard, has four bedrooms, a full finished basement, and three bathrooms (a lot bigger than what we are living in now)...We are planning a visit down to see the house once we return from China with both girls! This should be exciting {sigh}....

Well, we are off to Mass this morning and after that we are back to "getting things done". (poor Honey still needs his bath, never happened yesterday and we still need to get Annabelle's crib up and the girls' room put together). Tomorrow, I again have another full day with getting my nails done, getting my hair cut and colored....FINALLY...and doing some cleaning! Here's to me not loosing my mind today, fighting the urge to finish my book, and get some more packing done!

(Oh ya...I did get our money for the trip all ready and envelopes made out for each expense that will need to be paid when in China...I also finalized our extended stay in Beijing with our travel agent, also planned a 1/2 day tour including the Summer Palace, and I arranged a limo service to pick us up at 10:30 Thursday morning for our ride to the airport...so I guess yesterday wasn't a total bust! Also I got our full itinerary from our agency and as soon as I can, I will update our travel time line accordingly for you all...)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We knew it was bound to happen...

Well, today I received notice that our Annabelle will be returning to the orphanage on Friday (actually since it is 8:20PM here when I am posting this...she might be already getting ready to leave Hope for Jiaozuo SWI). When I read this information this morning, I was in total tears. I cried for my little girl who is now headed to a strange place and who was taken away from her only family that she has ever known...I cried for her care-takers who have truly loved her and cared for her the best that they could...I cried for her little buddy, Justin who she has truly grown attached to...and I had a good cry for myself (reason for which are private). I just hope that our baby girl is well and takes to the transition (I do know that there will be a Hope Rep with her until she is united with us). I know that I heard from other families whose children have come from Hope that the way the Hope Representatives conduct the transition that it is very smooth, but I am still so worried. The only thing that keeps me going is that I know in 12 days, she will be united with us.

Yesterday was surly a busy day in our household. It took forever to find a flight at a reasonable price...our travel agent said the average prices for flights were running $5500 per ticket {ouch!} but after some time of searching, she found one that fits our budget and is a direct flight from NYC to Beijing (only 13 hours). We are still waiting on the information from our agency with regards to our In-China travel. As of today (when I last spoke to them) they were still working on it. We still need hotel reservations for when we return to Beijing after Guangzhou, but I did make arrangements today with New Hope to visit their facility on November 1st. And, I did find out that there will be four other families traveling with us, which is something so new to me (last time we had a big travel group).

All in all things are moving along here at the Leonard household and as of now, we leave in less than 7 days for China (our flight is leaving at 4:30PM). I am not freaking out as bad as I thought I would, but it is still "early in the game". I am sure by next week, I am going to be coming-undone.

Thank you to everyone who has posted such beautiful and encouraging comments on here and on our travel web site. I can't begin to express what you all mean to me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


After a long time of waiting for our Consulate Appointment date...we FINALLY received notice at 10:15am Eastern time today that our CA is October 29th! AND according to our agency we NEED to be in Beijing by the 17th....that means we are leaving the 16th....NEXT THURSDAY!

OK...I already called our travel agent to make some airline reservations and to extend our stay a few days in Beijing after Guangzhou so we can take some time to visit New Hope. As soon as I have our official arrangements, I will be posting them!!!

Life here will be crazy for the next few days as I am sure I'll have a few nervous breakdowns! I will be reading all your comments left here on the blog and on our travel web site, but if I don't get a chance to respond right away...please understand that I am one of those types of people who can not multi-task (I used to be so good at it, but since I left the "outside-the-home working world" multi-tasking is a thing of the past for me). I will try to get to you all before we leave on the 16th!!!!

And if you need the password for our travel web site, please email me!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Off to school...

don't you just love her purple poncho :)

This morning as she headed out the door on her way to school, I just couldn't resist taking a photo of her! I still can't believe that there is a chance that we could be returning to China within the following week for our second daughter, Annabelle! I still can't believe that we are going back to Francesca's birth country with Francesca in hand and how much my little girl has changed since our last journey in November 2005. I am truly looking forward to this next chapter in our lives as parents of two daughters both under the age of 4 and only 27 months apart....

(in case you are wondering...no...we still haven't received our consulate appointment date, but our agency is still saying that we could be leaving as soon as the 16th. My nerves are shot...seriously shot!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

I can so eat her up!

Oh My Gosh...check out that face and that beautiful black hair!!! Oh, we are so in love!

As of today, we still have not received our Consulate Date BUT our agency is 95% sure that we will be leaving on the 16th...THE 16TH! That's only 10 days away! Of course, because we don't have that CA date, we can't book any flights, but according to CCAI, we should be hearing something either tomorrow or Wednesday. I guess you can say I am just freaking out a little...well a lot right now! (just in case you guys are wondering what dates our agency requested for as our consulate dates...they are October 28th, 29th, or the 30th...so like CCAI's rep stated to me over and over again today, be ready for the 16th!)

On one positive note, we did receive our visas today! Yeah!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up!

What a weekend! It has been so busy...but in a good way! Saturday, we went out to lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants, Smilers, and after lunch we went to purchase some new bedroom furniture for ourselves (the set that we were using was passed down to us from my great-aunt and since it is still in excellent condition, the girls will now have it in there room). On Sunday...since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to visit our local pumpkin farm for some afternoon fun! We had such a great time, but I am wiped out! Here are just a few photos from our weekend of fun!

At the pumpkin farm...

Francesca playing in the castle....

Going down the slide....(while Daddy supervises)

First pony ride of the day....

Playing in the hay bails maze....

Coming out the tunnel from the wooden train....

Our beautiful girl!

On her second pony ride for the day....this time with Grandma!

Since we skipped the hay ride to the pumpkin patch (it was getting late and some little girl was getting tired), we just picked up some pumpkins at the farm's market. We all had such a great time and got lots of goodies...Apple cider donuts, an apple pie, some hot cider, some hot chocolate, and of course, the pumpkins!!! We have been visiting this pumpkin farm since our first Halloween home and every year I am amazed at how much my little girl has grown and so wants to do things on her own....Oh what a great day we had!

On Saturday, Francesca's little surprise arrived and she couldn't wait to open it up!
(my very own VB!)

Oh what can it be?

(Oh I love it!) She was just so excited that she finally has her own VB...just like Mom and that she will get a chance to use them soon on our journey to China! Here's to hearing something this week on our CA!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Something for Francesca....

Even though Francesca has truly been excited about traveling to China for her little sister Annabelle, there are times I think she feels a little left out (which in my opinion is totally natural). So to let my little angel know that she ~ during this time of packing, arranging, booking, shopping, and panicking ~ is not forgotten, I just had to get her a few travel accessories of her own for our upcoming trip.

As you all know I have an addition to VB and "her" collection and Francesca is no exception...she too loves the patterns and often helps me pick out that something special whenever I am in need of a new accessory! Boy...is she ever going to be surprise when she sees that she too now has the start of her own VB collection! I can't wait until the pieces arrive.....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Lunch with Lisa" (what a great title for a talk show)

Maybe I need to correct myself...our 4 HOUR Lunch was truly wonderful! We had so much to talk about that we already made plans to meet up again next Thursday. The food was delicious, the talk was smooth, joyful & entertaining and my "date" was above and beyond of what I ever imagined! Who would have ever thought that two mothers ~ who would have never met if not for this wonderful community of adoption and the "world-wide-web"~ could have so much fun...just having some lunch!!!
"Lisa, Again, THANK YOU for everything...I can't begin to tell you what your friendship and kindness mean to me! So looking forward to meeting up with you again..."

A house of love...

The other day, I was watching the my favorite soap opera Y&R (The Young & The Restless) while Francesca was playing in the other room. I try never to watch those afternoon soaps while Francesca is around, but today I tuned in. Normally around the time Y&R is on, Francesca is already winding down for "quiet time" but today was a different story. All of a sudden, she came running into our living room and stopped dead in her tracks. When I turned around, I noticed her starring at the television to see what was on...this is what I saw!

(OK so it isn't the exact scene that we both saw and the photo displayed above is not as passionate as what we witnessed on the TV but you get the picture...)

After a few seconds, I can see this smile come across my daughter's face as I sit there waiting to explain to her what was happening she said, "Oh just like my mommy and daddy!" I almost feel off the couch and didn't have anything to say...when I told my mom the story, she said she thinks it is a great thing that Keith and I kiss in front of her because she said there are a lot of other children who see their parents "battle"...I can totally see my mom's point. When I first heard my daughter's comment regarding the soap opera scene that was playing before us, I was a little embarrassed, but after hearing what my mom had to say, I would much rather my daughter experience love than anger (but I am going to be DVRing Y&R and watch it when she is not around).
Today is the BIG day that Lisa at "Half Gaelic, Half Garlic" and I meet for our lunch date...I just can't wait!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Lunch Date!

Lisa from "Half Gaelic, Half Garlic" and I are meeting tomorrow for a lunch date...and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am! Through "blogger-land", we discovered first each other through our blogs and than we discovered that we only live a short drive away from one another. We planned another lunch date that fell-through, but this time, hopefully, nothing will be stopping us...!!!!