Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Christmas 2009!

This Christmas was truly wonderful! It was our first Christmas in our new home! And it was the first Christmas we got to spend with Papa & Grandma C (who came in from Virginia Beach on Christmas Eve)! We all had an amazing time and the girls were super excited over the fact that Santa would soon be visiting our new home with a few gifts to leave under the tree!

(Christmas Eve)

(Christmas Morning...)

Both girls loved the horse from Santa! Francesca has not stopped playing with her "Rain" (yes, that is what she named her horse...after Spirit's girlfriend) and as you can see from the photo above it was a hit!


Even Papa enjoyed some time with Rain! (I know Dad that you are probably going to kill me for posting this photo but you should know....that you are never safe around me when I have a camera in my hand!)

And here is Annabelle in her Snow White ballgown! I am thinking she is really loving the dress and red sparkle shoes because she hasn't taken them off since opening them up on Christmas morning!

We are once again headed out to Grandma's house in Pennsylvania this coming weekend for another Christmas Celebration! The girls are super excited as they truly miss Grandma so very much! I am hoping that once we are back home, I'll have a few photos to post to share with you all! OK ~ heading out to finish our packing and get some sleep!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ginger Bread Men Making!




The day before Christmas Eve, the girls and I made some truly adorable Ginger Bread Men Cookies!

We all had a blast and the cookies came out wonderfully well!

(we ate them all before I could get a photo of the cookies, but just seeing our two girls faces in these photos shown above ~ in my opinion ~ it is the most important "part" of all!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas ~ for an orphan...

I found this on my one of my long time friend's blog (who I was so blessed to "meet" when waiting for Francesca back in 2005) Lisa at Loos Locos! Seeing how it is Christmas Eve and even though our Benjamin is not with us this season, I know that he will be home with us next year. Is it hard not to have your child at home, in your arm...oh ya it is, but I know in due time he will be.

The presents are all wrapped & under the tree, the girls are fast asleep just waiting to hear the reindeer's bells. The food is all prepared and ready to be served and Papa & Grandma C arrived safe & sound to enjoy our first Christmas in our new home and with their grandchildren!

There is only one last thing I want to say to each and every one of my family & friends who are not with us tonight...

"May your Christmas be merry & bright ~ we love you all so very much. Please say a pray for our Benjamin tonight...just to let him know that he does have a family who also loves him so very much and is {trying to} patiently waiting to come and get him ~ when the time is just right...and I'll be seeing you all really soon...with photos galore of our Holiday Delights!"

(now onto the real reason for this post...)

Twas the Night Before Christmas--for the Parentless.....

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land
there are parentless children, with no toys in hand

No stockings to be hung by the chimney with care
no hopes for a family soon to be there

Their beds are not snug--but cold and quite bare
there are no goodnight kisses--no one to care

While we in our homes, laughing in delight
all settle down for a Merry Christmas Eve night

When in someone's heart--there arises a clatter
there are children in need--who's lives really DO matter!

Away to the computer please go in a flash
to see the sweet face with whom YOU could be matched!

While a child you see--their beautiful face all aglow
could this be MY child--could I already know??

When in the dreams of the orphan--what always appears
is a family to love them, to care and hold dear

As you stare at that child--your heart beats real quick--
for you know in your heart that sweet face will stick

More dreams sweet children have--to call parents by name-
come mama! come daddy! come family to claim!

To the ends of the earth--your heart seems to call
now child--I'm coming--I wish for you ALL!

So on a plane to your child--over rooftops you flew
to hold this dear soul--a wish did come true

And then in a twinkling-I saw through the door
this child of my heart-that was waiting no more

As I got my camera and was turning around-
into my arms did he come with a bound!

He was dressed in many layers from his head to his foot
and into my heart his life was just put

there was no round face--no plump little belly
just sad little eyes, and legs shaking like jelly

In a swirl of a pen, and a stamp and a seal
my world became brighter--like I could suddenly feel!

We spoke not a word--they weren't needed at all
and I knew in this moment where I got this call

God layed his hands on my heart--and to the occasion I rose
and He could do it for you--this question He'll pose.....

It won't be a shout--no not even a whistle
it won't be real clear--but faint like a whisper

Can you make room in your heart--if you try with your might?
And make a difference for one--help them see the light?

I can see you exclaim as you hold your child tight--
Thank you Lord for this gift--you got it EXACTLY right!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Francesca's GingerBread House!

Last week was Francesca's last days of school before a very ~ very ~ long Christmas break...

While she was super excited over her Christmas musical debut and her ginger bread house making day with Daddy...she was not happy about being off for the next two weeks...

Daddy took the day off from work ~ just to spend it with her at school making their very own ginger bread house...

She LOVED every minute of their one-on-one time together...


According to Keith, he had wonderful time too!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas On The Farm...


The weekend of December 12th, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew and my mom (aka Grandma) came down to our house for a visit! What better way to spend a day with three little ones than on an actual farm!


OK - I tried to get the kiddos put down their cookies for a second while I snapped a photo of them in this amazing antique sled, but they wanted no part...of parting with their cookies!


Annabelle would NOT and I repeat WOULD NOT get on the hayride with out me! So since I tagged along, I got some cute photos of the kiddos. This one here is when the hayride first started. She did not know what to make of the whole thing and as you can see from the look on her face...she is a little nervous (who can blame her). Anyway, by the end of the ride, she was loving it!


Francesca & Scott Joe taking the "front seat" and loving every minute of it!


and last but not least...our FFAs!

We truly had an amazing weekend with my family here! In my opinion, it went by way too fast! So looking forward to seeing them all again over the New Year's holiday weekend! Love you all and so looking forward to seeing my family in two weeks...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snap Shot Sunday ~ Record Breaking Snow Fall in Washington DC!

Can you believe it!

I finally make the move further south (where Keith has been working for the past 5 years) truly thinking I won't be seeing anymore major snow storms...

Boy - was I ever so wrong!

It started late Friday night and hasn't stopped! There are still snow flakes flying around here.

Here are a few photos taken on Saturday just to prove how much snow we got...

(this photo was taken from our front porch - just seeing those trees all covered in snow makes this season all that more special)

(oh our Annabelle - she just loved playing in the snow)

(and there they are - our two most precious gifts!)

(and while the kiddos were playing - poor Keith had all that shoveling to do...)

And I bet you are all wondering what I was doing (while everyone else was outside)...

Why I cooking!

Making one of the family's favorite dishes - Sausage & Peppers!

And having all this snow truly made it a day worth staying inside, enjoying a few good movies with some amazing cocktails & some home cooked Italian food!

(my sausage & peppers cooking in the crock pot)


Seeing how the peppers at the market on Friday we just so big-ripe-and-beautiful, I just couldn't resist purchasing a few too many. So what's a girl to do with all those extra peppers...

why make some Home Made Sauce which not only included those so big-ripe-and-beautiful peppers but also some chopped onions, minced garlic, and a few dashes of salt & pepper...


I guess you can say we have been eating very well since yesterday and I am just loving it! I am exactly where I want to my beautiful home ~ with my blessing of a family ~ and some wonderful home cooked Italian food!

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, December 18, 2009

whats been going on...

As many of you know, we have hit ~ another ~ bump in our paper chasing for our Benjamin...who is currently waiting for us in China. As of today...

***Our agency has received all of our paper work that is complete (that's everything - certified & authenticated - except our 797C & home study)***

***Our NEW child abuse clearances have been approved and have been received at our social workers office. ***

***Our social worker HAS COMPLETED the update which includes our NEW Child Abuse clearances and the update has been faxed directly to the officer at USCIS who originally reviewed our application and submitted information. ***

**Now we just sit and wait ~ again for our approval (which we were told would happen much faster this time around)...**

*And last but not least...certification & authentication of our last. two. documents.*

We do have a very busy weekend ahead her at the Leonard household. Besides getting our home ready Papa & Grandma C who are coming to spend Christmas with us...On Saturday (if we don't get the 20" of snow our local weather men are predicting...) Francesca & I have tickets to see "Mulan" at a theatre show here in Bethesda with Krista & her daughter B...On Sunday, the girls are having a morning spent with some down home food and the BIG man himself (that would be Santa)...and On Monday, the girls and I along with our new friends, Kelly, Jameson & Elise are all headed to another show in Glen Echo called, "The Little Engine That Could".


Yesterday was Francesca preschool Christmas Show & Ginger Bread House Making Day! It was such a BIG day and we have a ton of photos! I will be posting a few of them over the next couple of days - so please check back.

Here's to all of us in having a great weekend!

(oh ya -and BTW - I FINALLY got our of our Christmas presents wrapped & ready Christmas morning ~ YEAH to ME!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just couldn't resist....

After really looking {and organizing} all the stuff I have purchased since October for the girls for Christmas...I realized that I truly don't have all that much. Annabelle being two, doesn't totally understand the whole "Santa" thing just yet (but she's learning) so with me getting her a complete Snow White Collection which includes...a Snow White costume, Snow White's matching red glitter shoes, a Snow White matching Teddy Bear and the Snow White DVD...she is so done! (she also got a few other things but the Snow White goodies are the main presents for her this year).

As for Francesca...besides a few DVDs, a complete collection of Bendaroos (which she has been asking for since last year) and a few pieces of clothing (and that's no fun for a 4-year-old) ~ I really don't have anything this year for her. In my opinion this year is the first year that she truly understands about Santa and I am feeling the pressure to find that something special that will rock her world (as mine was all those years ago when I got my Mandy & Jenny dolls along with matching doll carriage).

Anyway, last night I ventured downstairs to the only locked door in our house. It was there that I started organizing all the gifts purchased and waiting to be wrapped. It was also than that I realized...Francesca doesn't have that one gift that will make her month drop on Christmas morning. Once the kiddos were put to bed, I sat down with Keith and started brain-storming on what we should get. Seeing how Francesca asked for very little and I mean VERY LITTLE this year (all she asked for where the Bendaroos, a dalmatian from 101 Dalmatians, a Lion King Figure...both which Grandma got for her...and a Spirit horse - from the movie ~ which I could not find), I remembered something posted on this blog about a pony that is so life like that your child will truly fall in love with it ~ a pony named Smores....

It was than I quickly got on my computer and showed Keith exactly what I was talking about. We both agreed that it would be perfect for her. After calling our local Toys R Us store to see if they still had them (which they did at an unbelievable price) I just knew I had to get one for her! After a 45 minute drive to our local Toys R Us store that should have taken me only 10 minutes (even with my British-speaking navigation system on board - I still got lost), I got Francesca her very own, Smores The Pony at a rock bottom price of $109!

(Oh how I can't wait to see her face when she sees it Christmas morning...!)

I truly think she is going to LOVE it! Now I know it is NOT the Spirit horse she was asking for ~ but this pony sure looks a lot like Spirit's girlfriend (that too was in movie)!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do you believe in signs?

Well...I sure do....I believe in signs.

In fact ~ while I was standing in that extremely long {very long} line at the post office last night (to Express Over Night our PA Child Abuse Clearances) ~ I was thinking about giving up.

(as much as I hate to admit this...yes I was truly thinking about calling our agency and telling them, I could no longer do this.)

I walked into that post office with my head hung low. After a few minutes in line, I realized that I forgot to take a pen with me. Seeing how there were NO pens available for me to use, I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs. I didn't know what to do...leave my spot in line and hike back to my vehicle to get a pen or start asking the other nice people who were also patiently waiting their turn to see if I could borrow a pen from them. Lucky for me, the super nice woman behind me did have a pen in her hand and when I asked if I could use it, she said "sure" right away. So there I was, filling out all the forms needed to over night our clearances and fill out a prepaid one as well for their return.

When I was done, I handed the pen back to the super nice woman and started once again thinking that all these bumps must be signs that we should not be going through with this adoption.

After an hour of standing in line...with a ton of emotions flowing through me (and letting the tears flow a half of dozen times), I finally got my sign.

As I stood there waiting in that line that was still snaking around the isles of personal rented mail boxes, a young Chinese woman walked out through the window/counter service door, holding one of the most adorable Chinese toddler boy that I have ever see ~ who by the way was crying his eyes out. One look at him, reminded me why we are doing this.

Now if you ask me, this sign looked so much like our little man. He had huge rounded almond shaped eyes, fair skin, and that course straight brown hair. He also had this round little face and some very rosy cheeks...just like our Benjamin and when he glanced my way, I knew he was my sign.

My sign to not give up.

My sign to remind me of our Benjamin James who is waiting for us in China.

My sign that this is only a test - a test of endurance, loyalty and most of all ~ love.

My sign that I must not ever think this way again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What the $()#(#*$&((&%)*%)%&$&#^@%@$@$!

Can you tell how I am feeling tonight? One word will help you all figure it out - USCIS.

After waiting over three weeks for our approval, we did not receive one today. We did not receive a denial, but the USCIS office needs current child abuse clearances in order to process our approval.

From titling this post....What the $()#(#*$&((&%)*%)%&$&#^@%@$@$! I guess you can tell exactly how I am feeling tonight!

Once we received the news, I was on the phone with not only our social worker, but our agency as well. Both are working together to get this taken care of. In the end, we needed to send in new clearances applications and with that said - I stood in line at the USPS for over an hour tonight so I could Express "Over-Night" Mail our requests for the clearances. Hoping to get this resolved before Christmas ~ UGH.

Just the though of STILL NOT having our paper work completed - makes me ill. I did a lot of crying today, cursing, phone calling and more cursing than I have done in a long time. Still a nasty bag of emotions as I sit here typing this...

Here's praying for a better tomorrow.


Lisa from The Long Road To China is the lucky winner of Mei Faith Studio Giveaway! Congratulations Girl!!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

SnapShot Sunday ~ Sisters...

Ah ~ Sisters...

Is there any thing more to say...

Why yes...there is!

See these two are truly sisters ~ in our eyes!

They fight like two sisters would...

They share like two sisters would...

They take care of one another like sisters should...


They love one another like sisters should.

(and seeing how I am a sister as well ~ I know exactly how a good sister should be)

My sister, Lisa, and I are almost 4 years apart. Once we hit "adulthood ', four years wasn't that big of a deal, but growing up...that 4 years age difference was a lot. When she was playing with dolls - I was playing with my bottle & wearing diapers, when she was playing outside with the other kiddos from our neighborhood - I was playing inside with my dolls, when she was enjoying those hot summer days out walking with her friends - I was told to stay home and not be a tag-along. (growing up) My sister did at times act as a little mother-hen" to me - which is all sweet & well - but I so wished I had a sister that I do have now! I prayed that one day I would have two daughters that would be close in age and have that sister bond that I so longed for...

and boy did I get it!

These two amaze me ~ every single day! I so wished my sister & I had a closeness (growing up) like these two have...

My girls are only two years apart. Francesca (my oldest) is four while Annabelle (my youngest) is two. They are able to do a lot of things together that I was never able to do with my sister (growing up). They both love to play games with one another. They both love to draw & color with one another. They both love to play outside with one another. They both love to watch TV with one another and they both love that feeling of being independent from taking care of one another (no need for mother-hens here).

Now don't get me wrong - these sisters do look out for one another. Both make sure that the other one is well taken care of ~ always (even if they are fighting with one another). And while I know that the fighting is not something that I should laugh at, I do find myself smiling just a little when I hear them go at it!

My two daughters - these sisters - play very well together. Most of the time taking turns and enjoying all the fun that having a sister can bring....

It is going to be exciting around here once Benjamin comes home. I have a strong feeling that our little man is so going to rock these two sisters' world!

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, December 10, 2009

did she or didn't she...oh yes she did!

This is a drawing I found one evening after everyone else was all tucked into bed. The next morning I asked Keith if he happened to draw anything on the doodle board last night and he said, "No, but I know Francesca was playing with it." I than showed him the drawing and I think his mouth hit the did mine when I first saw it. (please remember as much as I dislike to call myself an "artist", I am...and I know...or should I make that knew... full well that "art" is not...was not...Francesca's hidden talent). With that said, when Francesca finally got up, I proceeded to ask her if she drawn the picture and her response was, "Yes, Mommy! Can't you see, that is Daddy, you, me, and Annabelle. Do you like it Mommy?"

Oh course we all know my answer to that question.

As for Francesca, she truly loves to draw, color, paint, and craft {just about everything}. And as you can see from the photo displayed above ~ my baby has some hidden talent!!!

***Don't forget to enter in our Mei Faith Studio Tis The Season Part Two Giveaway***

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tis The Season ~ part two I just can't resist sharing some of my wonderful finds this holiday season, but this time I have a little something special that is totally unique {one-of-a-kind} and was hand made personally by me!

Seeing how my jewelry business Mei Faith Studio is still going strong, I thought I share with you all a creation...just for you.

This pendant is truly a work of art! The large African Turquoise that was used is simply beautiful and the Green Howlite and Pink Korean Jade beads....along with the sterling silver beads and posts...just added the right accents to bring out the colors within the turquoise. This pendant measures 3" long and is all ready to be displayed on any chain/necklace you desire...
PLUS - I will be giving a $20 store credit to my etsy shop, Mei Faith Studio! You'll be given 20 Mei Faith Studio Dollars to use on any piece that is featured!

{If you are the lucky winner of pendant, I will be shipping it out to you in a silver draw string jewelry case you are "thinking" about giving it as a gift.}

The rules are the same as before...every comment you post at the end of this entry will qualify you to be entered ~ it is just that easy! (I will be taking entries for this give away until 11:59PM on December 10th)

Again, just a little something to let you all know how much each & every one of you mean to me.

and Merry Christmas from our blog to yours!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

(a little early) SnapShot Sunday ~ featuring Francesca with MY something new

Well, this post isn't only about my Francesca - but it is about my new......!

Two weeks ago...I FINALLY broke down and made the purchase of a life time (well at least to me it was)...and my new BIG purchased finally arrived the week before Thanksgiving and boy am I having a blast playing with it!

What is it you ask?

Well it is the "Mac-Daddy" of all cameras ~ in my opinion. It is a Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP Digital SLR with 75-300mm Lens - Black!

(I also ordered a few other accessories for this "Mac-Daddy" that I am truly loving!)

Now that I have this amazing machine within my own hands, I can't believe I waited this long to get one (well in reality ~ it was the price that kept holding me back).

What made me purchase this camera now you ask?


1st ~ We are headed to Disney this coming January for 2 weeks to celebrate Francesca's 5th birthday and seeing how I don't want to miss one second of all the celebrating we will be doing - well you get the idea...

2nd ~ We once again {praying-hoping-praying} will be traveling to China for our son, Benjamin. Seeing how this will be our third time traveling together as a family (and of course Grandma is joining us) why not get the camera now and do some test shots...


3rd ~ I got an amazing offer on my old Sony camera that I just couldn't pass up...

Here are a few photos of my Francesca that are not touched up in any way...(not that she needs to be)

The photos are so crisp and clear...I still can't believe it has taken me this long to break down and purchase one...

But I am so happy that I did...

Ni Hao Y'all

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pilgrims, Indians, and Tee Pees - Oh My!

The week before Thanksgiving, Francesca's school was working on learning all about the Pilgrims & Indians that started the whole Thanksgiving tradition. They even built a giant tee pee in there classroom to celebrate the week's lesson. Along with the giant tee pee, each student in the class also made an edible tee pee! Francesca was super exciting and very proud of her tee pee and as soon as I snapped this photo, we were all sitting down enjoying a taste of her masterpiece!

She also made a beautiful Pilgrim costume to wear during her school's holiday feast that was hosted by the teachers at MCPP the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was just so cute that she ended up wearing it on Thanksgiving Day at Grandma's!

(doesn't she make just the prettiest pilgrim ~ ever...)