Thursday, December 31, 2009

More Snow...Playing With All Those Toys!

We got a little more snow overnight. About two inches. What the forecasters call a wintry mix. It was pretty easy to shovel it away, compared to the 21.5" before Christmas.

Merrilee has played non-stop with all of her toys from Santa and friends.

She has really gotten used to her guitar. She straps it on, strums, and dances away. Looking forward to a time when toys don't make noise.

Oh well, at least her preference is guitar!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Cutest Little Dress

Merrilee wants to say a special thank you to Aunt Judy and Uncle Jim. They sent her this cute little outfit for Christmas -- complete with the red holiday bow.

She wore it to Doug and Kadie's for dinner on Christmas day. Merrilee loves this outfit. She calls it her "fancy Christmas dress."

She really did look cute!!! Thank you, Judy and Jim!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mommy and Santa

Merrilee was separated from her mother this Christmas day, but she did get to talk to mommy for a bit on Skype, and show mommy all of her presents. Mommy sent Merrilee a couple of pictures today too. First, mommy got to spend some time in the big sandbox with Mr. and Mrs. Claus...

Mommy also sent a picture of her roommate. Her name is Beth too! Merrilee is always happy to get pictures from her mommy...

Technology is a wonderful thing. It's amazing how quickly images and messages go from one side of the world to the other.

To everyone far away from home this Christmas, Merrilee says "be safe!"

Doug and Kadie's

On Christmas afternoon, we went to cousin Doug and Kadie's for Christmas dinner, and more gift opening. Beside Doug and Kadie, cousins Heather and Jordan were there, along with Uncle Glenn and Aunt Sandy.

As Merrilee said, she looked "fancy." She wore her special Christmas dress and shirt that were a gift from Aunt Judy and Uncle Jim. She event wore her special bow, though she didn't keep that in very long. (We'll have more pictures of the dress soon. We left our camera at Doug and Kadie's and won't get it back until Sunday...)

Merrille was showered with gifts. She loved them all. Her bracelet, teddy bear, games, jackets, and her Disney Princess FJ Cruiser electric car. That thing is so big it took up the entire back of the 4Runner on the way home. There were lots of other gitfs...dolls and games and more. And she loves them all!

Merrilee especially enojoyed seeing Jordan, and going up to his old room to see his Christmas garden and play his drums!

Here's a little video of Merrilee on the drums...

When we got home, she also had to play her "electric" guitar. She has a style that is a mix of James Burton and Jimi Hendrix...

Can't wait til Merrilee gets to entertain all the people who gave her these gifts. And Merrilee can't wait until mommy gets to see, and HEAR, all her new toys. Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas Morning

What a busy Christmas morning.

At 6:10 a.m. Merrilee started calling, "Daddy, I want to get up. I want to get up." She toddled out to the baby gate at the top of the stairs, looked down and said "Presents! Presents! Santa was here!"

She could barely contain herself as she ran down the steps and over to her gifts. Santa brought her a lot of nice toys.

A special thanks to Merrilee's Aunt Brittany (she loved her Disney hoppy) and to Uncle Bart (she has taken her little stuffed animal everywhere, and we've already watched her DVD about five times!)

Here's a sample of some of the gift opening from Christmas morning.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Okay. The Baltimore area got whacked BIG TIME over the weekend with a major snowstorm. In Catonsville, where we live, the unofficial total was 21.5 inches. And, it's so cold it's going to be around for a while. Most of the major school systems were closed Monday.

A big thank you to Merrilee's niece Heather. We trekked over to get her early Saturday morning, and she is staying with us til Tuesday to help take care of Merrilee while dad is working early (going in at 4:30 a.m.)

It took a couple of hours to shovel out on Sunday, and a huge thank you goes out to Mr. Bob down the street. He came by with his snowblower and cleared out the foot of the driveway. (After we got out and shoveled, the plow came through and pushed up a huge snow wall on our cul de sac.

Merrille loved the snow. She loved looking at it and feeling it on her hand. She did not like it so much though when it ended up being almost as high as she is tall.

Meanwhile, Merrilee got her latest school pictures on Friday. Does anyone have a favorite?

So what do you think? We're a little selfish about this. We think they're ALL good!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

She Has Made MUSIC!

Three of the people who work for Merrilee's daddy -- Ms. Anne, Mr. John, and Mr. Robert -- pitched in and got Merrilee a little holiday present.

They insisted she open it tonight, and she did.

It was a Disney princess musical instrument set, complete with trumpet, cymbals, castanets, maracas, and oh yes, the drum.

Lots and lots of noisemakers. Needless to say, Merrilee loved them. So much so, in fact, that she had to sleep with the trumpet in her bed tonight.

By the way, be listening for Ms. Anne, Mr, John, and Mr. Robert on the radio. You'll be hearing them all soon on the new OVERNIGHT shift.

Merrilee says if her instruments are keeping daddy awake, the people who gave them to her might as well be awake too!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Special Visitor On Our Street!

Merrilee heard a noise at the end of our street.

Lo and behold, it was the jolly old man in red himself! Santa was riding on a fire truck!

He went down the street and stopped right in front of our house.

Merrilee waved and blew him a kiss. She said, "I've been good" and "Bring me some presents..."

Santa's elves gave Merrilee a candy cane. She's trying to be a very good girl.

We hung her stocking tonight, and ones for the dogs, Bogart and Bacall. Will they be filled with treats on Christmas morning?

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Merrilee and her daddy were treated to a nice traditional Hanukkah dinner at Mr. Rob and Mrs. Susan's house. The food was excellent, especially the peach soup and the brisket. Yum-mo!

Merrilee was fascinated by the dreidel, and she loved the lighting of the candles on the menorah.

She also liked playing with Jonathan and his friends...especially the drums and the piano.

A few quick glimpses from our visit...


The highlight of Merrilee's Saturday was a visit to see the train garden at the Ellicott City Fire Station # 2.

Merrilee LOVED it! She didn't want to leave.

Here's a little bit of what she saw...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Loving Her School

We are very lucky that Merrilee loves going to school. As we've mentioned previously, Merrilee goes to the Goddard School in Hanover, Maryland. It makes daddy's commute a lot longer in the morning and afternoon, and she usually spends 10 to 11 hours at the school each day.

Merrilee is blessed with some great teachers and classmates.

Every morning when she gets to school, Merrilee runs in to see Miss Charlotte. Later, her teachers are Miss Richie, Miss Jessica, and Miss Debbie.

We are keeping Miss Debbie in our thoughts and prayers. Her husband is a marine, and he will soon be going to that other big sandbox where more of our troops are headed. Will hope he will be safe.

Today, the school email us some pictures of Merrilee. We thought we'd share them with you!

Clearly Merrilee loves all the fun she has at school. She loves the music and the arts and crafts. The other day, the class practiced shaking hands and saying "Nice to meet you..." We practiced all that night when she got home too. Thank you, Goddard School, for all you do for our Merrilee!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our First Snow Of The Year

Baltimore received its first snowfall of this winter on December 5, 2009. We probably got about five inches here where we live. The flakes were big, but the snow didn't cause much of a problem. The roads were still pretty warm so not much piled up on the highways, though as you can see, it was enough for the salt truck to come through our neighborhood.

Merrilee was fascinated by the snow, as always. She remembers it from this year. She stood at the picture window a lot yesterday, and just watched it come down.

Today we made another trip to the grocery store. Merrilee has to stop and play with the snow on the bushes next to our front porch. She thinks the snow is pretty cool, though she doesn't like the cold or the wind. (By the way, sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, but they are video screen grabs, and I was shooting through our front window.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Interesting Comment...

Everyday, Merrilee's school sends home a "daily activity report" for each child.

It says how much she ate, when she napped, when she used the potty, what they did for language and cognitive skills, creative arts, music, and much more.

At the very bottom, there is a block for a special message.

Today, Merrilee's said

"Today Merrilee told Ms. Debbie 'I miss my daddy. He's at work. I miss my mommy. She's at important work.'"

What an interesting and observant comment from a two-year-old.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Day With Her Cousins

Merrilee had a terrific time this morning! Her cousins Doug, Kadie and Jordan took her to the Festival of Trees.

Merrilee told me she loved all the lights and trains, but she was a little scared of "Santa Closet." That's what she's been calling him lately.

When Doug stopped by to pick up Jordan, Leah snapped these photos. Leah really is an excellent and talented photographer!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Very Happy Child...

Sometimes, and I mean sometimes, it doesn't take much to make Merrilee happy.

Today, for instance, she was the picture of happiness.

It was all about sitting in the laundry basket, with her blue blanket, wearing her Crocs, and eating Cheez-its.

Merrilee says..."This is the life!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Merrilee missed mommy this Thanksgiving. Normally mommy would cook the big family dinner. But this year, with mommy in a far away land, the rest of the family left behind went out to dinner. Merrilee wore a little panda shirt outfit that was a gift from mommy before mommy deployed overseas...

Merrilee loves her cousins Doug and Kadie. They are among Merrilee's favorite babysitters. We think she likes Doug so much because he is so willing to act HER age and play with her...

And cousin Kadie helped put Merrilee's hair in a pretty pony tail for dinner...

Merrilee missed mommy but was proud to show off the outfit from mommy...

And this year, the holiday novelty at Hallmark is this flashing house that plays holiday tunes. You can buy as many as you want and connect them together, and they all flash their lights to the music. Merrilee decided they look good on the TV stand in front of the DVD player...

Merrilee is already anxiously awaiting the visit from the chubby bearded man in the red suit!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Mail....

Merrilee has been talking with mommy on Skype. Not everyday, but about once a week.

With the holidays coming up, it takes a little while for mail to reach mommy.

But, if you want to send a card, the address is:

Lt Col Beth Miller
Unit 2034, Box 34,
APO AE 09870

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Bother Me...I'm Eating

Merrilee loves her mommy.

But she reminds daddy all the time not to bother her while she's eating.

Here's an example...


Before mommy left for her deployment, she bough Merrilee a GIANT Disney coloring book.

And daddy bought Merrilee a huge pyramid of crayons.

So now, Merrilee is spending a lot of time coloring at night.

One thing we noticed...she colors with her right hand. Merrilee does some things left-handed, and some things right-handed. It looks like she goes with the right for coloring...

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Merrilee's mommy arrived safe and sound at her deployment destination.

Merrilee got to see her and talk to her today on Skype. All things considered, Merrilee says mommy looked pretty good. Mommy doesn't have the internet in her room, but there are some common areas where she can get on line to check email, Facebook, and Skype.

The funny thing was, today, the background was a Subway. Beth says they even have $5 foot longs there.

If you would like to send a card, her address is:

Lt Col Beth Miller, MNF-I, Unit 2034, Box 34, APO AE 09870

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goodbye Mommy...Be Safe

Merrilee was a real trooper as she trekked to BWI Airport on Veterans' Day evening, to send mommy off on a six-month deployment to the big sandbox. Both mommy and Merrilee held up well.

Merrilee has always loved the airport. She loves all the activity and she loves airplanes. But tonight, she was focused on mommy and telling her "I love you" and "Goodbye mom..."

There were hundreds of people near the international terminal, outside the Air Mobility Command gate. They were there on this Veterans' Day evening to greet servicemen and women who were returning from overseas deployments. One of the greeters was Gary Smith. Gary went to high school with Merrilee's dad, and he attends Merrilee's church.

These greeters are all a part of Operation Welcome Home. After Vietnam, America learned a lesson. You may not like the mission or the war, but you ALWAYS honor those who do their duty and who serve their country.

Operation Welcome Home is just one small way America expresses its thanks. We watched as these military members were greeted with cheers, waving flags, signs, and welcome home "goodie bags" and to a person, they shook hands, high-fived the crowd, and beamed back some smiles of their own. Merrilee wanted to be a part of the action....

You can join Operation Welcome Home, or make a donation. If you'd like to go to the airport to greet the members of the military, OWH's web site has all the information. Here's a little more video to give you a sense of the crowd and the reception these service people get...

Just before we parted, one lady from Operation Welcome Home went up to Merrilee's mommy. She said, "We are proud of you and your service. Please be safe."

That is our prayer -- that all of these people separated from their families, off in distant lands, stay safe and return home safely very soon. And that includes our friend, Billy, who has been away in Afghanistan. We hope he gets to see his precious daughter, Kassidy, very soon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Costume Number Two

Merrilee donned costumer number two for a Friday night party at her friend Emma's house. Emma licves across the street. Merrilee went as Ariel, wearing a costume mommy bought for her during this summer's trip to Disney World.

Daddy helped Merrilee decorate her pumpkin party favor...

Emma had a lot of her friends at the party...

Everyone had a great time at the party! And all the kids got lots of candy to take home. They'll have sugar highs for weeks to come.

Thank you Emma! Thank you Mrs. Jessica and Mr. Dave!

And Merrilee, you looked marvelous!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween -- The First Of Two Costumes

With mommy away, Merrilee paid tribute today to all the men and women in uniform. For her school Halloween party, she dressed up in her BDUs. For the record, this is an AIR FORCE uniform!

I admit, the pants were a little too big in the waist. And since there wasn't a safety pin to be found, we made do with some velcro straps through the belt loops in the back. It worked!

And here's a little video message to mommy...

One last thing...on the way to work today, daddy stopped and got a cup of coffee. While he was checking out, the man behind him was wearing a uniform too. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Daddy bought the sergeant's coffee. If you see someone in uniform the next few days, buy them a coffee. It's the least we can do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Missing Mommy

Merrilee is already missing her mommy a lot. She has asked a number of times, "mommy going away?"

We are trying to keep her occupied and thanks to a few friends, Merrilee has some new entertainment.

First, our good friend Edie Brown is handling PR for the Disney on Ice show. Edie gave this flashing tiara to Merrilee and she just loves wearing it around the house.

Next, Miss Kristy, who works with daddy, gave Merrilee this musical card. Merrilee loves musical cards. This one has that hamster music. Merrilee wanted to dance, but she couldn't really get those hips going until she took off the tiara.

Thank you, Merrilee, for the gift of joy you bring to us!

We are so lucky, and so blessed!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Merrilee's Bedtime Prayers

We've been very busy these last two weeks, getting ready for mommy's deployment.

Mommy leaves in the morning for two weeks of training. She comes home late on November 5th, and then heads to the big sandbox on November 11th.

We are already missing her.

One thing Merrilee does every night is say her prayers. She prays for her mommy and daddy, her dogs (Bogart and Bacall) and for herself.

This is the way Merrilee ends her day...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank You Steve Bisciotti

Merrilee's mommy and daddy got to go to the Ravens football game this past Sunday. They went with their friends Rob and Susan. The weather was terrific. The outcome of the game could have been better, with the Ravens losing to the Bengals in the last minute of the game.

At every Ravens game, the pre-game festivities include the Baltimore Marching Ravens and a military color guard performing this routine to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."

It's not the hippest song in the world, but 71,000 people rise to their feet for it every week. And then, this is the way the Ravens handle the team introductions.

By the way, October 11, 2009 was breast cancer awareness day, and thus the Ravens cheerleaders had pink pom poms.

Thank you, Steve Bisciotti for being a professional sports team owner that we all admire!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fire House Open House

The Ellicott City Fire Station on Route 103 had an open house from 1pm to 4pm on October 10, 2009. Merrilee took daddy to the open house.

Merrilee enjoyed it so much! The fireman were very nice.

She started off with a big hug for Sparky, the department mascot. Then, she got to sit inside a BIG fire truck, and she got a fire ducky for the bath tub and a bright yellow fire hat.

She saw lots of demonstrations about fire safety, the tools the firefighters use, and how they rescue people from burning houses and vans in crashes.

And after the open house Merrilee took daddy to McDonald's, where they share an M and M McFlurry!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Uncle Jim And Aunt Judy Visit

Mommy's uncle and aunt, Jim and Judy Brady, visited this week. They came to participate in mommy's promotion ceremony. They also got to spend some time getting to know Merrilee better.

While they were here, mommy took them to the Naval Academy and it just so happens it was the day before the big Navy-Air Force game. They caught up with the Air Force band practicing, and they even discovered that the Navy mascot, "Bill the goat" had been painted Air Force blue.

We also enjoyed time with Merrilee blowing bubbles, and sitting outside on the patio just visiting.

Uncle Jim gave Merrilee some T-ball lessons too!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Scenes From Mommy's Promotion

As we mentioned in an earlier blog, mommy promotion ceremony was Thursday. She is now officially a Lt. Colonel. The ceremony took place at the Defense Information school at Ft. Meade.

Rev. Mark Waddell, the pastor of Catonsville Unitd Methodist Church, offered the invocation.

Lt. Col. Will Manley, the Deputy Commandant of DINFOS, introduced the guest speaker.

Col. King Gillespie has been a mentor to mommy for most of her military career. He was the guest speaker, and he also administered the oath of office.

Mommy's uncle and aunt, Jim and Judy Brady, flew in from Arkansas and helped "pin on" her new rank.

After taking the oath and pinning on her new rank, mommy said a few words, and had some special gifts for those who took part in the ceremony. The sweetest moment was when she presented Merrilee with her first "big girl" wrist corsage.

A few other special people were there to witness the promotion -- our friend and neighbor, Sharon Jones, and our friend and Vietnam vet, Al Parsons.

Lt. Col. Beth Miller. We are all so proud of you!

A Portrait

Merrilee's mommy had her official promotion ceremony on Thursday. She's now a Lt. Colonel. We're hoping to have a little video of that up soon.

Mommy works at the Defense Information School at Ft. Meade. It's where all of the military folks train to become public affairs officers. They learn many, many skills -- from writing press releases, to photography, broadcasting and the graphic arts.

There are many, many talented instructors there. One of them is Jason Shipp. As a present for daddy, mommy had Jason draw this sketch of our family.

Daddy didn't get to meet Jason, but he did get to meet Jason's mom and brother. They are a terrific family, and this sketch will be treasured for years to come!

Thank you Jason!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Big News

The big news is...

Mommy is getting deployed for six months.

She is due to ship out on October 25.

We can't say where she is going.

We can say she won't have a lot of time to make sand castles in this sandbox.

Ravens And Spanish

Daddy was at the Ravens game on Sunday, cheering them on to their BIG win over the Cleveland Browns. Merrilee stayed at home, but she was showing her support and cheering in her own way...

By the way, Merrilee is learning to speak Spanish. No kidding. She can already count to ten in English, Chinese, and yes, now Spanish...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Trip To The Library

Merrilee loves books. She loves to read and loves to have someone read to her. A few weeks ago, she went to the library and got her very own library card. This weekend, she went back with mommy, returned her books, and checked out more books. We love having the Catonsville branch of the library so close to home...

And here is a short video from the trip. Note how heavy the backpack is at the end...

Then it was a visit with Mr. Al, inside his restaurant, Matthews 1600. Merrilee loves Al...

We have some major news coming soon -- let's just say Merrilee will have a little adjusting to do!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Important Face Behind The Scenes

The paperwork involved when you adopt internationally is massive.

Everyone who applies has to have a social worker do a home study report. In our case, because our wait grew so long, we had to have that home study updated a couple of times.

Even when you get your child, the paperwork continues.

You have to have your social worker come back six months after you get your child and do a post placement report. And, then again at twelve months, your social worker comes back for one final post placement report.

In our case, we were blessed to have a wonderful social worker. Anne Pearce was referred to us by another family who adopted from China. She works for the United Methodist Board of Child Care in Baltimore. Over the past few years she has become a friend working "behind the scenes."

She offered so much support while we were going through the adoption process.

She paid what we think will be her last scheduled visit to us last week, in preparation for the twelve month post placement report.

Anne, we couldn't have done it without you! We will forever be grateful. We hope you will continue to follow the blog and visit from time to time.

We look forward to finishing all the paperwork and storing away that mountain of paper. From time to time we will go back and look at it, and we may even wonder how we did it and how we survived the nearly four-year wait for Merrilee. One thing we know. It was well worth it!