Sunday, November 29, 2009

SnapShot Sunday ~ Annabelle

This is my Annabelle.

She has only been home for a little over a year.

She is one of those little angels who tell you like it is and has no issues with standing up for in what she believes in.

She is my shadow...if you see me, she is not far behind.

She does not like to be alone. She will take a nap in the afternoon - all by herself (seeing how Francesca does not nap anymore) - but she needs to be reassured over & over again that I am waiting for her down stairs.

She has been totally open with me from within the first 10 minutes of our union. I think it was the M&Ms I had, but my husband so disagrees (according to him ~ she is exactly like me...which in my opinion isn't a bad thing).

She is a spit-fire (if I must say) and if she doesn't want to do something ~ anything, she won't.

She has a few nicknames in our household..."Tootsie Roll" "Bam-Bam" and "Bruno" (long story on that one).

She has picked up a few bad habits from Francesca, but what else did I expect...they are after all sisters...

She LOVES her baby dolls, stroller & shopping cart!

She is always ready to go anywhere & everywhere...both of our girls are well travelers!

She was not supposed to be an "Annabelle" but first a "Janelle" than a "Sofia". Some special angel out there funded her life saving surgery when she was only 2 months old. It was this angel that named her, Annabelle Faith.

She loves to eat and I mean EAT!

She is still so tiny (wearing only 24 month size clothing ~ still)

This is my Annabelle and I wouldn't want her any other way.

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING ~ from our family to yours...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Since we are so very busy, getting ready for our famous Thanksgiving family gathering back in good old PA, I thought I would do a post about traditions. I am hoping that this post will not only give you some new ideas to add to your already well established traditions, but will also have you reflecting on your own that you have created over the years....

Don't you just love "a tradition" that started so long ago and has stay alive within your family!

Well, we too have a few here in our household as well...

For as long as I could remember, we NEVER left milk & cookies for Santa...we left a shot of "Old Grand Dad" for that jolly old elf! Looking back (and finally experiencing a few Christmases with some little ones & trying to assembly 'those so many pieces you don't know where to start' toys together every Christmas Eve...I can totally understand why "our jolly old elf" had needed that shot of fine whiskey - when we were little, my mom told me we needed to leave a little something for Santa to warm him up after traveling all over the world, all throughout the bitter cold night and since he already had a ton of cookies from all the other good boys & girls...he needs a little after drink to help smooth away his fullness - good excuse {laugh} but it is still working today!).

Another one of our traditions is that we don't have the standard "ham" dinner that most experience. Nope, not is this Italian household, we have home made raviolis (meat & cheese) that are to DIE FOR! (yes! HOME MADE RAVs made completely by my mom with a little help from us.)

And you know how many of us all get dressed up for 'the' big day - wearing our finest & prettiest outfits - well never in our pants and some warm slippers is all you ever need.

Now since I have a beautiful home of our own and an almost completed family, I too have started some amazing traditions that I hope will last a lifetime and make a ton of memories for each of our children.

One of my favorite traditions that started many, many years ago is that every Christmas morning after opening all the presents, my wonderful husband makes some delicious cinnamon rolls (you know, the ones that come out of the can). Twelve years later, we are still doing it and have been ever since that first Christmas morning many sunrises ago...

As many of you know (from a post I did last year), Last Fall, I purchased the Jim Shore Advent Musical Calender (from that famous home shopping channel we all know I have a problem with) and let me tell you - it is still a hit this year! You start marking the days that lead up to Christmas with this beautiful advent calendar...starting on December 1st... by remove one ornament a day from its unique hiding place, and hang it on the tree above until all of the ornaments are displayed. Wind the key and the tree revolves to the tune of, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". From the Heartwood Creek Collection by Jim Shore. Oh I just love it and it has already been displayed on our eatery island located in our kitchen.

Another tradition that I just started this year is "Elf On The Shelf" (book and elf set)! This crazy little elf comes into your home...watching every move that you make - seeing if you are naughty or nice - and than comes to life each night to report back to Santa. Every morning, the girls rush downstairs to find where our elf has landed - the search is such a big hit! The book that is included tells the story of these special elves and how one comes to live within your home (and what special job they do for Santa himself). What also makes this super great is that once your elf arrives at your home, you & your family can decide on a special name just for him. You get to record that name in the back of the book and also registered it online. Our special elf is named...Ernie the Elf!

Now these are just a few of some of the traditions I have started within family! And they are truly a hit!

Do you have any special traditions you would like to share? Well, whatever you d have planned or the new ones you start, I am sure they'll e a big hit in your home as well...

I would like to wish you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING and magical Black Friday (which I never shop on but I know so many of you do) and here's to seeing you all once after the weekend!

We are going to GRANDMA'S! And boy, are we super excited!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

SnapShot Sunday ~ Francesca!

This is my Francesca Mei!

She is my first...everything.

First child...First responsibility...First adoption...First time out of the country (when we traveled to China back in 2005)...First time I have really been scared...First miracle.

One word to describe Francesca is...passionate ~ about everything! From having her sleeves being rolled up, to how her socks are fitting on her feet, to knowing that I am sad & knowing how to make me laugh, she is my Francesca!

This little girl who came into our lives as a baby and is growing up way too fast for me. She also has changed me as a person and gave me a wonderful gift as well, motherhood.

Francesca, I so want you to always be passionate about life! Don't ever let anyone try to change you. You are my ray of sunshine on that cloudy day. One smile from you makes everything in my life just perfect. I know I'll never be able to tell you how much love I hold in my heart just for you so I am going to borrow the favorite page from our special book ..."I can't imagine life before YOU came there singing senseless, no meaning to my song. Call it meant to be or simply blessed fate, you fill my heart WITH LOVE and for the I celebrate".
(I Love You Marianne Richmond)

You are my little girl who does not like to to try anything new.

You are also my little girl who still loves to hold my hand at all times.

You are my little girl who did not like me at fact it took us almost 8 months after we arrived home to fully bond (and I so remember that day very clearly) but with lots of LOVE and DETERMINATION (from me) you gave in and accepted me as your mother...

You are my Francesca Mei.

and for that is reason enough to love you ~ always...

(oh how this little girl of mine can take my breath away with her beauty)

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"a few of my favorite things" on etsy

Click HERE to see "a few of my favorite things" that are currently being featured on! I personally hand picked each item that is featured as I am hoping to get a few during this holiday season...Enjoy shopping on etsy for that something special one-of-a-kind presents and be sure to check out not only my shop MeiFaithStudio but also all the other amazing shops that you can find there...!!!!

***don't forget to enter in my fabulous giveaway listed below only one more day left***

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tis the Season...

***and the WINNER is Jodee from Follow The Leaders! Congratulations Jodee!!! Please send me your choice of CD & candle set and your mailing address...You are going to LOVE this set!***

As many of you know, I just love a great "GIVEAWAY" and since I am totally in the sprite of this coming Christmas season (and as many of you have already "read" I am so into the shopping thing this year), I just had to give away one of my favorite things out this year to one of my faithful followers!

I LOVE this set too! It is such a must have & I just knew it was what I wanted to share with you all this Christmas season! This O'Neill Brothers Candle and CD set is truly a beautiful gift to pass onto some else ~ or keep for yourself! I personally given out several of these sets in the past and they are always a hit! I just know you are going to LOVE it! I am giving away one set...your choice...of the "Holiday Home" collection which includes a 17 hour burn time warm apple pie scented Old Virginia Candle Company tin candle and matching O'Neill Brothers piano music CD with matching gift bag or the "Cozy Home" collection which also includes a 17 hour burn time toasted almond vanilla scented Old Virginia Candle Company tin candle and a matching O'Neill Brothers piano music CD with matching gift bag as well! Your choice! (I have photos of each displayed above along with the songs on each CD)

Now here are the rules:

Just leave me a comment after this post...and for every comment you leave ~ you'll receive an entry! It is just that simple!

The drawing for this amazing giveaway will end at 11:59PM on November you better start posting now!

Good Luck and I can't begin to tell you all how excited I am to be sharing a little something with you - that I so love to give!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping for Francesca!

Now Francesca this year was very easy to shop for. Just about every info commercial she saw, she wanted it! From the Tooth-brush sanitizer, to the famous Snuggie, to Shrinky Dinks...and these (that are shown below) she wanted them all!

Well, I finally decided on getting her the Bendaroos! This is the second year she has asked for them and after finding them on ebay for only $12 (and that price included shipping), I just couldn't resist! I am thinking she is going to love them!

Next she asked for a few new DVDs. Seeing how we already have a HUGE collection...I wasn't 100% sold that idea but after sitting down with our daughter and asking her what new DVDs she was interested in, I quickly knew I would be making a few purchases! DisneyNature "Earth" is very special to Francesca's heart as well as ours. It was the first featured film she went to see at the could I not want to purchase this one! (and trust me - it is an excellent film!)

(as for Mary Poppins - it is a classic!)

As many of you know, from my last post on "Christmas Shopping for Annabelle" you all know I got some wonderful Disney character sweatshirts from at some amazing prices! I just had to pick up a few for my girls and the selection was incredible...all for just $2.99 each!

OK - I know I got Annabelle a pair of red glitter shoes to match her Snow White Dress and seeing how our Francesca has a Sleeping Beauty costume to wear when in Disney (Thanks to her Aunt Molly who gave it to her last year for her birthday), I just knew she would also LOVE a pair of these glitter shoes ~ PINK GLITTER SHOES!

I just love getting my girls those matching PJs! And this year, was having an amazing sale on some of last year styles! I picked up these adorable Minnie pajamas for both of our girls to enjoy and snuggle up in on those cold winter nights!

And last but not least, this is the first year I was FINALLY able to purchase Francesca some pierced earrings! She saw a pair of these on that famous home shopping network we all know I love and I just had to get them for her! I can't wait until I see her wearing them!

And there you have it - Christmas-102 for our two girls! I think I did really well this year. I set a budget for myself and stayed well within my limit! Finding some amazing bargains on,,, and I saved a whole lot of money! Now we still have a few presents to get (I just can't seem to make up my mind): a game board game (which are always a hit in this household) & some new books for the girls to enjoy! They just love LOVE love being read to! But seeing how these are all I have left, I am feeling no-pressure!

Oh I almost are some photos of the girls ~ ENJOY!
Since the past week was Francesca's turn to take "Billy The Bear" home from school and be his care taker, I thought it was only fitting to add some photos from her week with Billy....

all ready for bed...

getting ready to eat one of Francesca's favorite suppers!

one day we even made some "Billy the Bear" masks!

and finally - falling asleep...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Shopping for Annabelle!

Since many of you know (from several of my previous posts), I am one of those people who try to get their Christmas shopping done early. Well, this year I fell a little behind (paper chasing for #3, moving to a new state and a new house, trying to sell our old house, Francesca starting a new school...and...well you get the idea). So I made it my number one priority to get my butt into gear and start the craziness of "the season". Seeing how our Miss Annabelle really plays with a majority {all} of Francesca's toys, I truly thought about what she likes and what she would enjoy playing with {calling her own} this year!

As soon as I saw that Snow White was being released on DVD I just knew it would be the perfect gift for her. I quickly put my order in through Disney's Movie 'online' Club and it seems from this one purchased, it all snow-balled from there!

Annabelle LOVES playing dress up (unlike our Francesca). She would wear one of Francesca's Princess costumes every single darn day if I let her. So what better gift to give her but her OWN Princess costume!

And what little girl can go without this adorable teddy bear ~ dressed to match her beautiful dress!

And of need some red glitter shoes to tie in the whole "Snow White" look!

(I think you can all see a theme going on here...)

Now since we will be visiting Disney World this coming January for Francesca's birthday, I thought I get the girls some Mickey & Friends sweatshirts! I just love it when we are at "the happiest place on earth" & they are all decked out in their Disney Gear and seeing how many of these character sweatshirts are currently on sale at for $2.99 ~ how could I have resisted!

And last but not least - as soon as I saw "this" featured on QVC - I just know it is going to be a hit in our house! As many of you know, I am NOT a fan of Play-Doh. Not sure why, but even as a kid, I just didn't like it. Anyway, when I saw this on that famous home shopping network which I am addicted to and need professional help for, I was so excited that someone out there has gotten it right! Annabelle loves to play with anything "crafty' so I am thinking this will be a hit!

(it came in a set of three so Francesca will be getting a set too)

For the most part, this is what our Annabelle will be getting this coming Christmas. Only one or two will be from Santa, Francesca will pick out something to give to her as well and the rest is from good old mom & dad!

Can you tell I am finally getting excited!

I am hoping that by the end of this weekend I have Francesca's shopping complete as well. Once it is all done, I promise to share with you all what exciting "finds" I purchased just for her!

And since I just couldn't have a post without some new they are!

Our Annabelle is trying to get on some of Billy the Bear's clothing (Francesca little bear friend from school). I don't think she realized that it wasn't going to fit over that head of hers but boy did she wear it well!

and here's one with her favorite {cough} only sister!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm Back!

After many phone calls and emails, I have decided to come back into the land of bloggers! To keep it simple, I am only going to post once a week. Life here is still very busy and with the holidays coming up so fast, I don't see our lives slowing down. Plus we are headed to Disney World this coming January for Francesca's Birthday which we are all super excited about!

Trying to recap all that has been happening since I took a little leave from our online journal is going to hard, but here it goes...

We finally got our fingerprint appointment through USCIS and it is set for Friday, November 20th! Hoping to have all of the paper chasing wrapped up and sent into our agency for review by the end of December. As for when we will I am thinking May? Only time will tell. We have not gotten any more updates on our Benjamin.

Francesca is LOVING school and she is now going 5 days a week! As for our Annabelle, she is still my little shadow and I wouldn't have it any other way!

We here at the Leonard household is currently getting ready for Christmas! The house is almost completely decorated (minus the tree and outdoor lights) but other than those two things - we are set to go and the girls are loving I am too! Christmas music is playing...cookies are being baked...our Christmas photos cards are almost completed and I am finishing up my holiday shopping. I am hoping to start the wrapping on Thanksgiving weekend for many of our purchased gifts for our family in Pennsylvania - as they are being stored at my mom's house.
(we will be spending Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania...Christmas in DC...and New Year's back in Pennsylvania)

Now, onto the best part of this post ~ some photos of the girls ~ which I know you all have been patiently waiting for...

Our front door decorated for Christmas! I just love how it turned out this year!

Both girls enjoying the falling leaves of Autumn!

Halloween at The Leonard household - Francesca was once again dressed as Mulan for her school's party!