Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Argh Matey!


So what is it with kids that they find great entertainment in the simplest of things.

Last night was apparently "pirate night" in the Miller home. Merrilee has taken to wearing all of her clothes on her head. Last night, in her best attempt to be fashion forward, she went for the pirate look...

This is a kid who clearly doesn't have any fun, right? NOT!
Sometimes she just cracks us up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Newest Ravens Fan

A major milestone for Merrilee on Sunday!

She attended her first NFL game. She proudly wore one of her Ravens outfits. She met Miss Alison, Mr. Davis, Mr. Ruderman and Mr. Schmuck in the Miller Lite tent. Once we got her to the seats, she was clapping and cheering all throughout the game as the Ravens beat the Browns, 28-10...
Merrilee really liked all the action and she thought the Ravens band was really cool. She really got into the whole arm thing every time there was a Ravens first down and the crowd chanted "Move those chains!" She made it through the third quarter before she got hungry and restless, but by that time, the game was a lock.

A couple of times we heard her shout out something that we couldn't quite understand. We're not sure, but we think it may have been Mandarin for "Let's go Flacco!"

She loves to go walking through the woods with daddy, and he takes her over to the tot lot at Westchester Elementary School sometimes so she can play on toys and the sliding board...
We continue to make progress on the potty. Here's a shot of Merrilee wrapped up in a bath towel while sitting on the downstairs potty...

One last thing -- Merrilee says the soft pretzels at M and T Bank Stadium are really yummy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

China 's Tainted Formula Scandal

We received a call from our adoption agency yesterday, suggesting we talk with our pediatrician, and if necessary, get some kidney tests done on Merrilee.

This is all because of the tainted baby formula scandal in China. Most of the problem is with Sanlu formula. That is one of the formulas Merrilee was fed in China. She also was in the Hubei province, where much of the tainted formula was used. The formula was tainted with the chemical melamine, which is normally used in plastics. It was added to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein.

We haven't seen a single sign from Merrilee that there is any problem. In fact, since we've had her, she's only had one bottle. Even while we were in China, she stopped drinking formula and moved to real "people food." Still, Beth will tallk to the pediatrician on Thursday.

Merrilee continues to have a great appetite and just last night, we were playing with her and rubbing her new little belly. She laughs and giggles so much -- especially when you blow raspberries on her belly.

She's still working hard at the potty training thing too. She'll sit on the potty for a long, long time...sometimes more than a half hour. Usually she goes in the potty. But yesterday, she was playing with us. Every time we took her off the potty, she'd go a few minutes later in her diaper or pull-ups.

By the way, the Millers are addicted to the TV show, Jon and Kate Plus 8. If you've never seen it, you can read more about it HERE and HERE. Beth likes the show more than Mark. Mark says it causes him to have anxiety attacks. Those Jon and Kate Plus 8 marathons can almost make him flee the room. But admittedly, we both loved the episode where the family was potty training all six little ones. What patience they have.

Merrilee has really gotten the hang of the "blowing kisses" thing now. Last night, on the sofa, she climbed on Mark's lap, looked him squarely in the eyes, puckered her little mouth, and kissed him smack dab on the lips.

Those are the moments you treasure forever.

More on the China formula scandal from the Associated Press:

More than a 1,000 parents anxious over tainted milk powder on Thursday rushed their infants to hospitals for health checks as the government announced that a fourth baby had died in the spreading scandal.

Meanwhile, regulators in Hong Kong ordered the recall of milk products from a Chinese dairy after finding the banned industrial chemical melamine in eight of 30 sample products tested.

Police in Hebei province said they had arrested 12 more people Thursday, bringing the total to 18. Shi Guizhong, spokesman for the provincial police, said six allegedly sold melamine, while the other 12 were milk suppliers accused of adding the chemical to milk.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the latest death was a baby in the far western region of Xinjiang. However, an official at the No. 2 Agriculture and Production Corps. Hospital in Yanqi, Xinjiang, said it was too early to say if the 8-month-old baby died of complications caused by the tainted milk powder.

Shi said Hebei police and government officials were starting a 10-day campaign to focus on melamine contamination. Suppliers to the dairy companies are believed to have added the banned chemical, normally used in plastics, to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein.

Police also confiscated 660 pounds of suspected chemicals, including 490 pounds of melamine, he said. An additional 87 people were summoned for questioning and 28 people have been detained, according to Shijiazhuang Vice Mayor Zhang Meizhi.

One suspect, surnamed Su, told police that from February 2007 to July 2008 he bought 200 44-pound sacks of melamine $29 each, and sold them all to milk suppliers, Shi told a news conference.

At the Beijing Children's Hospital Thursday, more than 1,000 anxious parents waited for check ups as they carried their sleeping infants and toddlers. By 2 p.m, doctors had seen only half of the 1,200 who waited in line.

Nervous parents said their children had all been drinking three major brands of baby milk powder, all of which have been recalled after government tests found melamine.

Fang Sunyi, 28, who was holding her 3-month-old son, said he had been fed Sanlu Group Co. and Guangdong-based Yashili since birth.

"I'm just praying there's nothing wrong with my son," she said. "We first fed him Sanlu, then stopped because that was reported to be bad quality, then we switched to Yashili, but now there's nothing left. We don't know what's safe anymore and we don't want to take any chances."
In Shijiazhuang, Hebei's capital, the new chairman and chief executive officer of Sanlu, the dairy company whose milk powder has been linked to all of the known illnesses, apologized at a news conference Thursday.

Zhang Zhenling said he wanted to "express deepest apologies" for the tainted milk powder and for "harm and losses to consumers." He then bowed three times.

Zhang pledged that Sanlu would "turn pressure in motivation" to resolve the crisis properly. His predecessor was fired earlier this week and has been detained by police.

Parents gathered outside Sanlu's headquarters in Shijiazhuang to get refunds for their purchases of tainted milk powder. The mood was calm but there was confusion as parents traded tips on what products they thought were safe.

A 30-year-old mother who gave only her surname Wang said her 1-year-old daughter seemed healthy but that she was still worried. The three major milk powder brands that she usually buys - Yili Industrial Group Co., Mengniu Dairy Co. and Sanlu - have all been recalled.

"Of course as a mother, I was really nervous," she said. "Now we have no idea what kind of milk to give the baby. They all have problems."

The widening crisis has raised questions about the effectiveness of tighter controls China promised after a series of food safety scares in recent years over contaminated seafood, toothpaste and ingredients for pet food.

The Hong Kong recall covers milk, yogurt, ice cream and all other products made by Yili Industrial Group Co. and distributed in Hong Kong, said Constance Chan, controller for the territory's Food Safety Center.

In addition to the recall in Hong Kong, Singapore authorities announced they were recalling an ice cream bar made by Shanghai Yili AB Foods after melamine was found in it.

China's government has dispatched thousands of inspectors to monitor milk powder producers after health officials reported Wednesday that the number of babies sickened by tainted formula rose to 6,244.

This is the second major case in recent years involving baby formula. In 2004, more than 200 Chinese infants suffered malnutrition and at least 12 died after being fed phony formula that contained no nutrients.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Merrilee Loves Our Neighbors, Hannah and Sophie

Mark got home from work early enough today to take some new videos of Merrilee. She loves going down the street to play with Hannah and Sophie. They have a cool sliding board in their driveway...

And when they're done playing, Hannah and Sophie sometimes push Merrilee back home in a cool little car. Merrilee really loves her new friends!

Where Are Your Pictures?

The digital age is a wonderful thing, but it also has a downside. Everyone says, “Do you have some pictures from your trip to China?” Well, we do. We have a lot. Problem is they are all digital photos. So unless you fire up the computer, or show them on the back of the digital camera, it’s not like the old days.

A few days after we got home, we uploaded our digital pictures to Shutterfly. Yesterday, the first batch of pictures arrived by UPS. It’s still fun to sit there and thumb through them one by one. There’s just something that seems more permanent when you look at a photo print as opposed to a digital display on a screen. Maybe we’re just old fashioned….

Every day with Merrilee is a joy. She loves to laugh and play.

Mark is working a morning shift this week, so he was home in the mid-afternoon on Monday and got to see Merrilee playing with some of the neighborhood children. He also got to ride a see-saw with her and she seemed to love it.

We also got a visit yesterday from our friend, Patti Harman, who brought some nice presents for Merrilee. She especially loved one of the dresses and we know she’ll want to wear it to church soon.

One of the people in Mark’s department at WBAL Radio, Anne Kramer, gave Merrilee some presents on Monday. One was a little pink tote bag which Merrilee carried around with her Monday night…

There was also a toy pony, and her favorite new toy – a vacuum cleaner!

Mark says he loves any toy that teaches a little girl domestic skills (just kidding!) We think what Merrilee likes is NOT the concept of cleaning – it’s the music the vacuum makes when you push it. Some songs teach her the ABC’s…others are just fun to listen to when she plays with the toy.

Why is it that every toy seems to have a song that the Merrilee just wants to hear over and over and over? The moment a song starts to play, her head bobs and shakes, and her feet move like she’s doing a jig.

All the information we received before we got Merrilee was that she loved music and being outside with other people and especially other children. Those two things have certainly proven to be true!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Church and More

Another weekend of new experiences for Merrilee.

First, Merrilee continues to use the potty chair. And, when she’s not done, she let’s you know she’s not done. She refuses to get up from the chair until she’s finished.

We are very grateful to her foster family who clearly got her started on this path. We know some adoptive families where the babies from China were completed potty trained by the time they were 14, 15 or 16 months old.

Merrilee also made her first visit to church on Sunday. While we were in China, we know our friends at Catonsville United Methodist Church had us in their thoughts and prayers. Yesterday, we made it to the 9:30 a.m. service with time to spare. Merrilee was very good, and made it through about 55 minutes of the service before she got a little restless. Pastor Mark asked all three of us to come to the front of the church, and when we turned around to face the congregation, Merrilee got to see all of the people who had been pulling for us.

It’s hard to believe now that it was a four year wait for Merrilee to make it to the Miller family, but as Pastor Mark reminded us, this was the baby God had chosen for us. The timing was all part of his plan.

The other big news from Sunday is that Merrilee got to meet more of the Miller family. She got to meet Doug and Kadie (she really took to Doug – she still seems to like the men!) and Heather...

And, she got to meet her new cousin, Jordan. Jordan has asked so many questions, and he was clearly happy to finally get to meet Merrilee...

At one point, we were asking Jordan questions about Merrilee and he said the sweetest thing. After just a few minutes with her, he told us, “I’d do anything for that girl…”

We also picked up some pictures we had dropped off at Wal Mart last week. We had sent a disposable camera to China before our trip, and the camera made it to the orphanage and Merrilee’s foster family.

Now, we have a few pictures of Merrilee there in her foster home. The family clearly wanted to show off the clothes and stuffed animal were sent over in advance of our trip. We also got one picture of the other baby who was also in foster care with the same family. That baby too was adopted on the same day by another couple in our travel group.

Merrilee continues to love her blocks, her music CDs, and her Leap Frog ice cream truck. It plays the most addictive tune:

"Ice cream truck
On your street
Choose a flavor
What a treat! "

It's one of those songs that you just can't get out of your head once you've heard it 50 times...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Potty Success and Mice

A big development (or three of them) in the Miller household yesterday.

Beth made a big deal with Merrilee about setting up the new potty in the bathroom. Sure enough, the first time on it, Merrilee proudly christened the potty with her first pee pee.

Then, when Mark got home around 7pm (late night because of the Ravens being forced to move their game in Houston from Sunday to Monday) he was ushered into the bathroom to see the first poop poop in the potty.

This was all a very big deal to Merrilee. She knows that she is doing a grown up thing. There was another pee pee before bedtime, and still another first thing Friday morning when she got out of bed. She really has the hang of it already.

She has developed a terrific appetite. She loves broccoli, bananas, and even the meat loaf at Matthew’s 1600. The pediatrician said she needed to gain weight, and Merrilee seems to have taken this task to heart.

What is it about little kids and mice? Merrilee loves the little mouse on one of her outfits. And yesterday, we received a very thoughtful gift from John Matthews and his family. For those of you who know John, he has a great collection of all things Disney. I mean a world class collection.

You can see Merrilee loved her gift!

Thanks John! We can’t wait to take her on her first visit to Mouse-land in Orlando, but we think we want to wait a few more years. Mark is already bracing for the Dumbo ride and Mr. Toad. She’s an adventurous little girl though, so she might really enjoy the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad too!

This will be a big weekend for Merrilee. She gets to meet Mark’s nephew and his family. We bet Merrilee and Jordan are really going to hit it off and become good friends!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Feeling at Home

With every passing day, Merrilee seems to be feeling more and more at home. The credit for this goes to Beth who is spending countless hours alone with her while Mark is at work. Merrilee loves riding in the car, loves the stroller, and loves riding in a little ice cream truck we bought for her. She also loves playing with blocks. Every night after dinner we all have a little "block time" together...

We have received so many nice gifts. Merrilee loves all of her books and she loves pictures. Whenever we take a picture of her, she wants to see it in the display and kiss it. We've been trying to sneak some short videos on our digital camera, but as soon as she sees what's going on, this is what happens...

And, despite all the toys, sometimes she thinks the plastic bin that holds the blocks is the most fun of all...

More and more of her personality comes out each day.

By the way, bedtime is now between 7:45 and 8:00pm and she's sleeping all night long...thankfully.

Monday, September 8, 2008

She's a Waver....

One thing about Merrilee. She loves to wave. When we were in China, she wasn't all that interested in the books and toys and puzzles we had with us. She thought our suitcases were the coolest things...

One of the special gifts we bought for Merrilee while we were in Guangzhou was a hand-painted fan with lots of symbols about her home country and heritage...

When Beth took Merrilee to the doctor last week, she said we had to fatten her up a little. Believe it or not, our tiny little girl eats like a horse. It looks to us like she's already getting a little belly on her. And we're okay with that!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Gotcha Moment

It took us a few days to get caught up, but we thought we'd share this moment with you.

This was "Gotcha Day."

On August 18, we drove to the registration office in Wuhan, and there they started bringing in the babies. Mark was shooting the video when the representatives from the orphanage in Chibi handed Pu Fu Na to Beth. I guess you could say this was Merrilee's "delivery..."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Merrilee Loves to Eat...and Wave...and Nod

Merrilee is always so happy. She has a great appetite. Today she had a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and she had a grilled cheese tonight for dinner. We are always interrupting her though, because we love it when she waves...

She is getting along well with our two pups, Bogart and Bacall. Bogie tolerates her a bit more. She loves to kiss them and pet them and give them treats. And Bacall clearly recognizes her new sister's name...

Two More Things

Two more things to mention...

There is a very rare, highly collectible Barbie doll. It's know as the "White Swan Barbie." Officially it's the "Going Home Barbie." You can read more about it HERE.

The only way you can obtain this Barbie is to adopt a Chinese infant, and stay at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. It is the hotel's going home gift to the baby. Every family in our group got one of these dolls...
And speaking of dolls, here is our little doll, Merrilee, with another little doll, Kassidy (the daughter of our friends Nikki and Billy...

Aren't they cute?

Settling In

We've been gone a few days from the blog, trying to get settled in and get Merrilee used to her new life in the United States.

The first few days home were rough. After being up 31 hours for the flights home, we all crashed and then slowly transitioned back to US time.

The Saturday morning we arrived home, some of our neighbors came over to meet Merrilee, including Timmy, our little neighbor two doors away. It seems he and Merrilee are already very friendly. Later that night we had dinner at Jessica and Dave's across the street, and Merrilee was introduced to more of the neighbors.

Our good friend Rob Gould came over with his friend, Susan, and daughter Becca, and brought us a casserole of manicotti, salad, bread, etc. We cooked it the next night, and when Merrilee saw it, she really chowed down on the pasta. We think she is going to love little Italy.

Wednesday Beth took Merrilee to the pediatrician. All went well. She needed a chicken pox vaccine and had four shots. The doc gave us some tips to get Merrilee drinking more milk, and she told us we need to fatten her up a little bit. That should be easy. She has a good appetite and we love to eat! This was Merrilee's first meal in her Baltimore high chair...

Acting promptly on the doctor's advice, we took Merrilee to our favorite neighborhood haunt, Matthews 1600 on Frederick Road. Merrilee got a grilled cheese...

but she was having more fun getting to know the owner, Al Parsons. He loves babies, and she took to him right away...

Also we want to give special thanks to Edie Brown for the baby blanket, to the Beauchamps for a wonderful personalized book that Merrilee already the Sandlers for a terrific Ravens outfit for our baby...and to Jane, Stacey, Barbara and all the terrific people at the Radio-Television News Directors Association for their thoughtful gift. They remembered when we started on this journey, and their support means so much to us.

We'll be posting more and more as the days go by. The journey continues...