Sunday, February 28, 2010

one brave little girl

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Yep ~ That is our Francesca...

She is surely one brave little girl...

She is truly one little girl who has come a long way...

She is our Francesca...

and for that alone is simply enough to love her...

Friday, February 26, 2010

the things we do to our children....

(it was me who placed the Viking helmet on her head)

the look on her face is saying it all....

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Black & White Wednesday ~ my girl and those funny faces!

Well, seeing how is it Wednesday once again, I search high & low for a photo to use {from the many we already have} and I think I found the perfect funny one!

Within minutes of meeting Francesca, she will have you in stitches! She will have you doing things and saying things you never imagined doing! Like making some super funny faces which our cousins from Naples Florida found out when they came up for a few days visit while we were at Disney. Francesca had our cousins, Teresa and Mark (who we miss so much) right where she wanted them! What a great time we had with everyone!

Now onto the the best part of this choice for this week's Black & White Wednesday Photo with Lisa from The Long Road To China .

Black & White Wednesday 2

That girl of mine is all about making those silly faces...

the long road

Monday, February 22, 2010

*updated* an early birthday present ~ just for me!

*Just received my necklace today and it truly is as amazing as I expected it be. If you haven't check out Lisa's web site ~ you must! For I am sure you will find that one piece you'll too so desire to have....*

Back around Christmas time, Stefanie over at Ni Hao Y'All feature this necklace as a pick on her "Christmas List for 2009"!

(it is the same list that I also found Smores the Pony on for Francesca...)

Anyway, at first glance of this necklace, I so WANTED one. Seeing how we were leaving for Disney only a few short weeks after Christmas...I just could not justify spending that kind of money on a necklace.

As time past, I kept that necklace in the back of my mind...

Next Valentine's Day came and seeing how Keith & I made a promise ~ a long time ago ~ not to waste any money on Valentine's Day gifts (we only do the card thing), I still could not justify "this necklace".

Than one night while watching TV in our bedroom, Keith turned to me and asked, "Is there any special you want for you birthday?" Seeing how he already got his hands on some tickets to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers display here in DC, {which I can't wait to go...} I truly didn't want to ask for anything else (plus as many of you know, we are saving once again for a trip to China this coming summer). When I did not reply, Keith asked me again, "Is there anything special you want for your birthday?" It was within 5 seconds that I turned to him and told him about "this necklace" I so desired...His reply to me, if it is under $100, you can order it!" I quickly ran down our stairs, type in the web site address, and starting ordering the necklace of my dreams.

Now this is not "my" necklace ~ for the names on each of my charms would be, Francesca, Annabelle, and Benjamin but you get the idea.

I know many of you have seen these hand stamped charm necklaces in the past (just as I have too) but I have NEVER seen one that perfectly represent my children.

Oh how I can't wait to get it! Not sure if I am going to have to wait until my birthday (which is next month) to wear it, but I am hoping I don't have too...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Snap Shot ~ China...

In honor of celebrating China's 2010 Lunar New Year ~ The Year of the Tiger, I found it only fitting to dedicate a post about this one country that my family & I hold so dear to our hearts.

Oh China...

Some people out there will never understand what "China" means to me & my family...

This coming summer will be our 3rd time to visit this amazing country...

It will also be our 3rd time traveling on the adoption road to our 3rd child, Benjamin James...

Oh China...

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Now I bet you are all wondering if this photo was taken when we traveled for Francesca back in 2005 or if it was taken when we traveled in 2008 for Annabelle...

Well the answer to that is neither ~ this photo and the others I will be sharing here with you all today was taken at Disney's Epcot China in sunny Florida!

(almost had you there...didn't I)

Anyway, as I mention before (on previous posts) we LOVE China at Disney's Epcot!

While it is not exactly the same as being in the heart of CHINA, for us it is close enough...

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(Disney's Temple Of Heaven)

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(a waterlily pond in Disney's China)

Oh China...

How we are counting down the days until we will once again return...

{{{{{And just in case you haven't heard ~ WE GOT UPDATED PHOTOS OF OUR BENJAMIN ON FRIDAY!!! Click HERE and check them out for yourself ~ they are truly amazing!}}}}}

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, February 19, 2010

got cake?

New photos just in! To see more click HERE!

thinking of...

{what else but} CHINA!

It has been 24 days since we have been LID for our Benjamin. It truly feels like 94 days ~ at least for me. I know we have so much to do before we can even think about traveling once again to China for our first son...and believe me when I say we do have so much to do...that I should not be wasting any time sitting around, crossing off the days since we have been LID ~ but I am.

24 days since being LID...

and from the look of things...

we could have another 80 days before we hear anything at all....{sigh}

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

B&W Wednesday ~ our Francesca

Francesca Mei Leonard 1

It is once again Black & White Wednesday over at The Long Road To China! Make sure you stop by & say HI to Lisa and check out all the other bloggers who are participating!

Our Francesca has been home from school since February 5th.

Is she sick ~ no

Does she not want to go ~ no

She has been home from school for over a week now because of all the snow we got (if any of you have been keeping track we got over 50" of snow in a matter of 2 weeks).

Today is her first day back and she is super excited this morning to be seeing ~ once again ~ all her friends & teachers!

And even though there were times I though I would go cRaZy with the two girls home once again I found myself last night very sad. I know I must be cRaZy but I DO SO MISS our Francesca when she is at school. I think about her often and I find myself counting down the minutes until I can pick her up.

Oh Francesca ~ If only you knew how much I miss you when you are not with me....

Monday, February 15, 2010

a glimpse into the future....

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I know ~ it is only a matter of time before she can be old enough to legally drive {sigh}....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Snap Shot ~ Annabelle & Disney (what more can you ask for...)

Ahhhhh ~ Our Annabelle.

It seems like forever since I did a post ~ just about our Annabelle.

She had an amazing time while at Disney this past January.

And whenever we talk about going out {anywhere}, she quickly asks, "Are we going to see Mickey Mouse at Disney World?"

The last night...while we were headed out for supper at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Lee's Kitchen, she kept saying over & over again, "Daddy, BUS!" Daddy, BUS!" When Keith asked her if she was talking about riding on a school bus (thinking to oneself what other kind of bus could she be talking about), she said, "No, I want to go on the Mickey Mouse bus!" As soon as the words came out of her mouth, Keith turned to me and said, "Now that's worth every penny we spent on our trip to Disney World."

Just look at how much fun she had...

That laughter...those smiles...and yes...that quick humor of hers...had us all watching her...having the time of her life.

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Ahhhhh ~ our sweet sweet Annabelle...If you only knew how much your Daddy & I love you.

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, February 11, 2010

for our Benjamin...

Not sure if it was the fact that we have been snowed in since last Friday or the fact that we are now LID, but I have been thinking a lot about our Benjamin.

So I though I share with you all 'here' a recently published post I did over on his blog that explains {in detail} the path that lead us to our son....

It's a long one so be ready...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

once again Black & White Wednesday

It is once again, Black & White Wednesday's over at The Long Road To China web site!

I must admit, I did have to search this week for a photo to use...

But it did not take me long to find exactly what I was looking for...

Below is two photos - one finished in Black & White and the other finished in Color for you all to view.

The one photo from which both were edited from was truly a great shot of our two girls. It was taken this past November to be used on our Christmas card. And for those of you who have received a card from us this past holiday season knows that neither of these two photos shown below were used and seriously there is no particular reason why. So after coming across my saved color version of the original photo, I just knew it would be the perfect pic to play around with those special editing tools some more...

And editing {playing} I did...

Since this is Black & White Wednesday...I figure it was best to start with my B&W version of the photo...

B&W 2/17

For some reason, it turned out better than I expected (that's is why it is posted here). Even though you don't get that abundant color range as featured in the photo below, you still get what this photo is all about!

{during my editing} I also added a little "dusting" factor to the B&W, I still think it is an amazing posed photo of one of my favorite subjects to photograph ~ our two girls.

Now here is the end result of the color photo that I edited.


I think using the outline reflection in both photos proved to be an outstanding way to make both photos just pop!

Thank You Lisa for starting Black & White Wednesdays! Just being a part of it is truly special for me. It has made me really start focusing on (and playing with) some editing tools I never dreamed I would using {or wanting to use} and it has opened me up to a world I only heard existed. So for that I must once again say, Thank You.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Year Of The Tiger ~ and ~ For Our Benjamin

part one ~ Seeing how this coming Sunday will be the official kickoff of 2010 Chinese New Year ~ Year Of The Tiger, I though I would share with you all a few pictures that have been sent to me over the past week in honor of celebrating Chinese New Year ~ 2010!

Last week, I completely decorated our house in paper lanterns, red silk ribbons (direct from Beijing), glowing pagodas, and some very beautiful Chinese silk fans! The girls were super excited over seeing these very special decorations adorn our home once again and Keith has made reservations at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Lee's Kitchen here in DC! Oh words can not express how excited we are for this coming weekend...Let the celebration ~ begin...!

part two ~ I have finally gotten around to updating For Our Benjamin's web site! These are truly exciting times for us here at the Leonard household...not to mention very emotional and trying and we sit and wait-and wait-and wait for our LOA to arrive....

I will be posting regularly to our son's web site. Many of the posts will be informing you all on our time line, details of our care packages (which one has already been sent), and any updates we receive on him - but - it will also be place where I will be posting some very important messages and stories that I feel need to be recorded.

I do hope you all will once again join us in our adoption journey!

And I am hoping to be posting from this site when we do travel once again to China this coming summer!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recipe Monday and some photos of the "Super Storm" in DC

Colleen over at the Nut House started "Recipe Monday" on her blog. While I am still neck deep in photos from Disney (not to mention the 30" of snow we got over this past weekend), I so wanted to share with all a few recipes that we just couldn't have lived with out this past weekend (and all are super easy to make)...

#1 001

Now, anyone that knows Keith & I well enough knows that we so love our "at home happy hour" cocktails! Even though they are super easy to make and my very own special concoctions, I am going to share the recipes for both cocktails featured here today with you all!

First up is the "Super Storm Delight"!

take one bottle of your favorite Raspberry Forte (we LOVE Tomasello Winery's brand)...

mix it with 16oz of Lemon-Lime Soda in your favorite pitcher...

stir until blended well (and foamy)

pour over some ice...

add an orange slice..

and than you'll have the "Super Storm Delight"!

*trust me ~ this cocktail is so good you'll find that before you know it, the whole pitcher will be gone...*

#2 005

My next recipe I am going to share with you all is a recipe I found on the Nut House blog about a year ago and since than it has become a family favorite and a necessity for anyone who is stuck inside ~ all weekend long ~ because of the "Super Storm" that hit the DC area...

Thank You Colleen for sharing this recipe with us ~ with me! It has truly become a family favorite! And one that I am sure will be passed on for generations...

now without letting you wait any longer, here is the recipe...

1 cup of sugar
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup of butter (melted)
1 cup of self-rising flour
2 cups of fresh fruit of your choice (I used only strawberries this time)

Place fruit in lightly greased baking dish. Combine sugar, flour, and egg...once mixed...sprinkle over the fruit. Pour melted butter on top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.

next is my other cocktail special of the weekend...


(I know another cocktail but we have been snowed in since late Friday night...)

This one I am calling, "A Little Bit Of Sunshine On A Snowy Day{weekend}"!

and here's how you make it...

over ice - in again - your favorite pitcher ~ pour...
two parts "Verdi" Spumante...
one part Limoncello...
and one part Orange Juice...
mix well...
garnish with orange slices to taste..
and there you have it ~ "A Little Bit Of Sunshine On A Snowy Day"!

(fyi ~ while we did enjoy this concoction I must admit it isn't as good as our "Super Storm Delight")


And last but not least is my Crispy Corn Chip Chicken (which we had on Saturday night with some southwestern style corn and fried potatoes with some sweet onions)!

This was a recipe I sort-of created while trying to find something new & exciting to do with chicken...

take 2lbs of chicken legs (about 12-14 pieces)...
after rinsing off each piece of chicken, take each piece and dip & coat into 4 beaten eggs...
than coat each piece with a full bag of crumbled (flavored) Friots {we love using Friots Chili Cheese Flavored ones}...
place each piece of chicken on a baking sheet...
*top with melted butter ~ optional*...
bake in 400 degree oven for about an hour and there you have it ~ Crisy Corn Chip Chicken!

As I stated earlier, these recipes are sure to be a hit whenever you decide to try them and again - all are super easy!

(now onto the part two of this post)

As many of you have heard...we DID have a record breaking "Super Storm" here in the Washington DC area! This is the MOST snow I have even seen (so far in my life time) and I hope it is the last....We had over 30" of snow...let me repeat that over 30" of snow! It started Friday at 1PM and didn't stop until late Saturday night! These photos featured below we taken around noon time on Saturday afternoon. Seeing how it was a weekend we here at the Leonard household stayed in our pajamas, I didn't venture out too far from the front door (actually all I did was open the door and started snapping away). Anyway, here's is an idea of just how MUCH snow we got and why it was labeled the "Super Storm of DC"!

Photos from noon time on Saturday ~ while it snowed another 4" by the time the "Super Storm" was can get the idea of how



(that's Keith's vehicle that was slowly being all the snow we were getting)

Now after looking at these photos, I bet you can tell why I just had to include those fancy cocktails,that delicious dessert, and that amazing Corn Chip Chicken on this "Recipe Monday"!

***I can not get credit for naming the massive snow storm that dumped on our area this past weekend..."The Super Storm" for it was our local Channel 9 WUSA News station that was calling it "The Super Storm". I just found it "super" funny and it was truly my word of the weekend!***

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Snap Shot Photos ~ our Sleeping Beauties!

Oh don't you just love watching your children sleep ~ well we sure do! And here is one photo of each our of girls dreaming the night away (on our last night at Disney)!

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Oh I could watch them sleep ~ forever. I love how at peace each of them truly looks and I love watching them breathe every breath as if new life was following into them with each intake. There have been many nights I have stayed up and watched my two girls sleep. It is just something about that moment...that I so want to remember and promised myself to never forget...

(it is something I know I'll be doing as long as I can...)

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, February 5, 2010


Here are a few more Disney photos! Again I hand picked these just to share with you all!

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Breakfast with the Princesses ~ this photo was taken while visiting Ariel!

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My nephew, Scott Joe, after having his face painted like a tiger!

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The girls with the "big guy" himself! (Now isn't that the true reason why we all go to see Mickey Mouse!)

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My girls and me just outside the gates leading into Epcot's China!

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My mom & me enjoying a few glasses of vino in Epcot's Italy! (I think that is why Epcot is our favorite...where else can you truly "drink around the world" without leaving sunny & warm Florida!)

and last but not least - THE MAN behind the photos!

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(as soon as we saw Pocahontas, Keith handed me the camera and waited his turn in line just to meet her)

And there you have it - just a few photos {and trust me when I say you only saw a few of the photos} that were taken while we vacationed at Disney World this past January!!!! So looking forward to going back in 2011?!?!?!?!?!?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

only a few more posts - I promise!

OK I know you all must be getting totally bored with all these photos from Disney (can't say that I blame you) but if you just humor me for just a few more post, I promise (now remember I have over 1200 photos of our fab trip) I'll have something new for you by next week!

Here are just a few photos of the girls with some amazing Disney characters that I though came out truly amazing!

First up is our Annabelle with her favorite ~ Snow White!

(remember the Snow White dress and sparkle red shoes our Annabelle received from Santa this year...well she just couldn't wait to wear them!)

snow white photo

And here is once again our Francesca with Daisy at Disney's Animal Kingdom! As my mom is always can never go wrong with a photo that "her Francesca" is in!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Black & White Wednesday with Lisa

Once again, it is Black & White Wednesday with Lisa!

If you haven't already checked out her must!

Seeing how this photo has been a family favorite since our first Christmas as a family of four {in 2008}, I just knew I had to feature it here for this post!

You see this was the first photo I truly ever edited. It was when Lisa (from The Long Road To China) introduced me to flickr (online).

After changing the color photo to B&W and adding the word "love" to it, I felt it was complete! I than had them printed up in 11" x 14" size photos, matted and framed to a size 16" x 20" them to give out as Christmas gifts for that year. Everyone loved them and the photo itself has been featured in a gallery showing back in Pennsylvania during the spring of 2009. To me, this photo is so special because our Annabelle was only home with us for about 2 weeks when this photo was taken. Just looking at this one photo takes me back...I still can't believe the exchange of looks between our two daughters...these two sisters who have only met only a short time ago. This photo still is displayed in our home as a reminder of where we have been and where we were going....


Here is the original that I just had to add. I so think that by changing it to B&W and by adding just that one word...made this photo a family keepsake!


(I figure I throw in a non-Disney photo here seeing how I have a few more post planned of just Disney photos ~ I just can't seem to stop myself!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a visit with Mulan...

Our two girls LOVE Mulan {and in my opinion she totally ROCKS}! She was on the top of Francesca's list to meet! And when she finally did, I think Miss Mulan was just as captivated by our two girls as they were of her. She sat and talked to each of them for a long time and even showed Francesca some Chinese warrior moves. Yes, my girls were in heaven when in the company of Mulan (so much so that Francesca is still talking about it til this day)!

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(my girls with their hero...)

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(Francesca learning the moves of a true warrior)

Once again, another magical day at Disney ~ how blessed are we....

Monday, February 1, 2010

LID!!!! LID!!!!! LID!!!!!

We finally got word today that our LID is January 26th!!! Getting ready to send out a care package! Oh you will never know how bad I needed to hear some good news today...

LID ~ January 26th