We are a married couple who adopted our little Russky, Nikita {aka Nicky, Nicky noodle, little man, Nikoli, the Nickster, crazy dude, goofball, puppy love, etc...you get the picture!} from St Petersburg, Russia four years ago. Join us as we stumble through the joys and perils of parenthood, while our son teaches us a few things along the road...


Nicky's 1st Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving celebration began on Wednesday with a frustrating start for us all. I had a cold and laryngitis, Kris had to work 2 shifts in a row, my sister-in-law (Caroline) and her 2 kids (Brenden & Emily) got lost in Oklahoma while driving down from St Louis, and my parents and my Granny & Nana had to deal with the crazy traffic on the road from San Antonio. My voice finally joined us on Saturday and I'm happy to say that Caroline made it safe and sound! This was the first time Nicky had met them and they all got along really well. Other than the occasional "mine!", the visit was a success. We watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade, had a big turkey dinner on Friday (since Kris was working Thursday), played at the playground (where Nicky was assaulted by another little boy - the kid bit Nicky on the back & his mom had the nerve to tell me "he doesn't know how to bite", even thou there was evidence of the attack on Nicky's jacket!), we went to the Dickens of a Christmas festival in downtown McKinney, we looked at Christmas lights, and best of all Nicky met Santa for the first time! In Russia, the holiday we celebrate as Christmas here in the US is actually celebrated just after the new year, and Santa's counterpart is called Father Frost. Here are a few pictures of our fun and thankful holiday.
Parade WatchingWalking to the playground with Nana
Emily & Nicky at the playground
Brenden & Nicky at the playground
Helping Nana make stuffing
Nicky & Emily at Dickens Christmas
Emily, Nicky & Brenden dancing with lights
Nicky, Brenden & Santa
Nicky, Nana & Pop
Now that everyone has gone home, it's a little too quiet around here! It was so nice to have the family together for the holiday and we can't wait to spend many more together over the upcoming years. Thank you for coming to help us celebrate Nicky's 1st Thanksgiving! We miss you already!


No No Cow!

A friend of mine (Wendy) gave me a bank that's in the shape of a cow & she's painted very fancy - like those cows that travel all over the world in the Cowparade. Anyway, Kris & I call her the "cash cow" and we've introduced her to Nicky. He loves to feed her money & the second he sees any loose change lying around, he picks it up and says "cow?".
So - a few weeks ago Nicky & the cow had a little tussle. It went a little something like this: Nicky feeds the cow. Momma doesn't have any more change for the cow. Nicky becomes upset at this fact. Nicky kicks the cow while momma's not looking. Nicky picks up the cow so momma doesn't see (only momma does see...love those eyes you get for the back of your head when you become a momma!). Nicky realizes the cow's ear has broken off. Momma realizes Nicky's bleeding from somewhere (initially just saw the blood on the floor, assumed it wasn't the cow's). Momma sees that it's Nicky's finger. Once momma points out the fact that Nicky's bleeding he yells "No No Cow!".And why wouldn't he yell at the cow? Wasn't it in fact the cow's doing? Forget the fact that he's the one that kicked her over in anger! Oh to be a 2 1/2 year old again & have no responsibility in the world! The cut turned out to be a very little thing on the end of his index finger, but it sure did bleed! We have all since kissed and made up and are friends once again. However, now when I get the cow out for Nicky, the first thing he does is scold her with "No No Cow!", then proceed to feed her the money!


The Test Came Back Normal!!!

We've been patiently awaiting the results of the barium enema Nicky had last Friday. I was getting a bit nervous after not hearing anything, but we finally got the call this morning saying that the results were normal (for the lower GI that is)! Yeah! I have to say, the little guy is a trooper! Kris took him to the hospital, and other than getting nervous & upset when changing into the gown (which didn't quite fit him), he didn't make a fuss.He laid still on the table & wasn't too happy about having the initial insertion, but Kris said he was a model patient after that. He let the doctor turn him to each side and he laid on his back while they mashed a tool on his belly (Kris said it looked like an ice-cream scoop...no clue what that was!). After the test came the fun part...expelling the barium...ew! Kris said Nicky was a little unsure about all that - kind of a weird thing to experience, especially for a 2 1/2 yr old. On the way home, Kris called me and Nicky was screaming "ocaccalo" (his word for poop) and seemed to be quite distressed. He did, however, pause to tell me about his new puppy "Marley" that they gave him for being such a good patient! So cute...this is the first stuffed animal that he's named! He has a book "Bad Dog Marley" (a kid's version of "Marley & Me"...thanks Marissa - it's one of his fave books!) & that's where he got the name. He is completely enamored with Marley & he carried him around the house all weekend.

He didn't seem too traumatized by the whole ordeal, which is good, considering there's more testing to be had. The doctor has now recommended we do an upper GI scope to make sure there isn't any twisting in that neighborhood. Once again, I'm gonna have to chicken out and pass the task onto Daddy! In the meantime, we're giving him pro-biotics "for proper gut health". The doctor said that maybe he just doesn't have the right bacterium in his belly, so this could help...sure couldn't hurt at this point! We'll let you know more as we have the next round of tests. For now, we're just very thankful that our little Russky's lower belly isn't all twisted in knots and there doesn't appear to be any major health risk!


A Barium Enema They Say...

Well, we took little Nicky to the GI doctor today to see if we could get any insight regarding Nicky's persistent exploding diarrhea (technical term, I assure you). The doctor was very thorough, as one would hope that a physician would be, and seemed to really know his crap...I mean stuff! Sorry, a bit crass I know, but at this point, after sifting through several diapers in search of enough of a sample for the various tests they've already run, I feel I've deserved a few laughs! Let me back up a bit. For those of you that may not know, Nicky has never had a solid BM. "Never?", you may ask. "Never", I will answer, as far as my knowledge stretches (which is about as far back as August 29, 2008 (our "gotcha day"). You see, dear reader, although the orphanages do provide you with some "medical background", they don't really give you the full picture. So, as far as we know, Nicky has had super yucky, go everywhere, throw away the clothes & sheets, kind of diarrhea...and no - we can't just wash the clothes, it's that bad!

Now, back to the present. After the second parasite test came back negative & the symptoms persisted, we thought that maybe something else could be going on in that little colon of his, so we should be responsible parents & have it checked out! Nicky did NOT like the initial "checking it out" that the doctor did, I assure you of that. Nor will he particularly enjoy the upcoming enema, I'm sure! I've assigned the task to Kris...I've passed the butt. (ha ha! another little bit of crass-ness!) Hopefully we'll be able to have the test later this week so we can get it over with. We asked the doctor if he thought it could be some type of food allergy, but he indicated that if it were a food allergy, then Nicky would most-likely be having massive BM's after meals, whereas now, Nicky can go 72 hours before the explosion emerges. His thoughts? A malrotation or twisting of the colon. And wouldn't you know, the way to "fix" this problem is surgery. This malady is typically found during infancy, however...well, I'm not even gonna go there...I'm sure the orphanage, etc, took the best possible care of him.

If this test is inconclusive, the doctor will run some blood tests (specifically for celiac disease & others) and will most-likely want to perform an upper GI series. Poor little guy! Lucky for him though - we will need to wait to have the circumcision done until this is all cleared up, as to avoid any infection in/on/around his penit! (Nicky can't say the letter "s" - it becomes a "t", so "penis" sounds more like "peanut"! Of course, we run with that one!)

Anyway...we'll keep you all posted with any and all updates!


Houston...We Have English!

And wouldn't you know, the first Russian word to be translated to English is "no"! I have to say, even though he's saying "no" in answer to every question no matter what we're asking (i.e. "Nicky, would you like an ice cream sundae with chocolate and sprinkles?"), it's pretty cute. He says it in a sort of sing-song manner & sometimes thinks about the answer before he says it (like it will be anything other than "no"!). It goes something like this: "Nicky, would you like to go outside and swing?"; Nicky's answer "Ummmm....noooooo." Most of the time it's immediately followed by a "da" - still not saying "yes" in English yet, but hey - "da" is kinda cute! As for the rest of his speech - he's getting much easier to understand and he knows about 116 words/short phrases!!! Yeah! We've been home just over 2 months, so we're thrilled with his progress! Some of his favorite words are: no, moon, come on, owie, more, mine, book, car, dog, snack; to name a few. We are amazed at the progress he is making and we get giddy as school girls when we hear him say something new. His teachers tell us he is really making strides at school too, as far as playing with the other kids, and not clinging to the teachers. Drop-offs are still a little rough & are frequently accompanied with tears and sometimes screaming. Pick-ups however, are a different story. He sees us & runs the other way, playing with his friends & hiding from us! At least we know he's enjoying himself now. The transition from school to home has gotten better as well. Whereas before he would run around the house crying & expecting to be held constantly, now he plays with some of his toys while we're fixing dinner & actually eats! The tantrums have gotten better, however, we've reverted to the constant whining - sigh...if it's not one thing, it's another! But - overall, things are much better in the Johnson household! Can't wait to see everyone over the holidays!


Nicky's "Welcome to America" Baby Shower

This past Saturday our friends threw us a party in Nicky's honor. It sounds funny to me to call it a baby shower, but that's really what it was. They decorated the house with red, white & blue - not only to signify the colors of the US, but also that of Russia. Our friend Shelly found a bunch of mini US & Russian flags and our friend Anne went to a Russian store in Arlington and bought a ton of Russian candies - mostly chocolate. For those of you that know me well, you know that I'm not the biggest chocolate fan (tragic, I know), so all the kids at the shower got to take a bunch home & there was enough to bring to the office on Monday - I was an all-around hero! :)

Everyone brought yummy food and drinks and as the guys watched College Football, the girls all gossipped in the kitchen, while leisurely grazing. Nicky seemed to enjoy himself immensely to our delight! He ran around with the other boys (Ryan and Cole, who are both close to his age) and played alongside the girls (Hannah and Katie). He shared his toys - and boy did they all play with his toys! At one point, as I turned the corner in our den, Kris told me to just "look away" - I think he was afraid I would keel over with an anxiety at the mere sight of the mound of toys on the floor! We may have been worrying about Nicky's eating habits before, there was no need the night of the party. He was a grazing fool! There wasn't anything on the plethora of platters that he wouldn't try...he may not have ended up liking it all, but he sure tried it all & then some! I was afraid his little belly was going to explode with all that he was stuffing in his mouth. I ended up having to cut him off around 6:30pm & only allowed the intake of milk, much to Nicky's dismay. He was not happy with me at all; but then he saw Cole walk by with a sippy cup of milk & that's all we needed to get him to drink it!

Nicky has really grown much more confident. We were afraid he would be glued to our sides the whole night, and not play & enjoy himself. Our fears were unfounded - he was all about playing & then coming back to "check in" with us all throughout the evening. It was very sweet actually! He would run up at random times and give me big hugs or want to be held for a second, while showering me with kisses (he did the same with Kris).

Everyone left around 8:00pm-ish and Kris took Nicky up to bed - surprisingly without a fight. While he cleaned up Nicky's room & put him down, I flew around the house like a mad-woman, cleaning every surface in sight. I figured if I didn't do it then, I wouldn't get the chance later, as Kris had to work at the fire station on Sunday & I would have to be the entertainment for the day! And, I sure wasn't going to miss out on a nap on Sunday - man I love me some naps! They say to "sleep when the baby sleeps", so who am I to disobey?!

(Nicky riding his new "rocket". Notice he's holding momma's cell phone...already sending text messages! Man they grow up fast!)

We decided to fore go the opening of presents while everyone was around. He doesn't really understand what it all means anyway, plus I didn't want him to get the idea that he will always get presents every time he meets new people. He's already gotten so much this year. We had such a good time visiting with everyone, and most of all, Nicky enjoyed himself. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped him feel welcome and loved in his new life! We are so truly blessed!!!


Nicky's 1st Halloween

Well, Nicky's 1st Halloween didn't start out so well. Kris had to work at the fire station, so we were not planning on doing much, but I wasn't prepared for what the day had in store. I woke him up to go to school, only to realize he had thrown up on his bed twice! :( Poor little guy! I took his temp (normal), he ate breakfast and was acting fine, so I decided that the vomit (yuk!) was due to the excessive amounts of drainage the little dude has had lately (he gagged a bit when he was coughing). So, off to school he went! Now, before you think I'm a bad momma, had he been acting as if he didn't feel well, or had a fever, at home we would've stayed. But, on the contrary, he seemed fine, so I figured I would just take him to school & then pick him up early to go to the doctor in the afternoon. I didn't want him to miss his 1st Halloween party after all! In answer to the question that I'm sure you're wondering now, no, they don't celebrate Halloween in Russia. Well, some do, but it's definitely frowned upon (the powers that bee feel that it's too "Western" and that the youth of Russia should focus their attention on their own country's holidays instead).

Nicky's class (well, the parents of those in the class) all voted to have the kids bring in a black shirt to paint, in lieu of dressing in costumes. They all trick-or-treated to the other classrooms and then had a party-esque lunch. During which, Nicky threw up again! :( His teacher called me and agreed that there was no need to pick him up (still no fever & after puking on his plate, he asked for "more" chicken nuggets!). I went ahead and picked him up a bit earlier - figured he'd had enough partying for one morning. I waited until he was napping before opening his "treat" bag & was very happily surprised. Most of the parents had brought "trinkets" as opposed to candy! Thank goodness! Our poor son - he's still a "virgin" when it comes to all the varieties of candy! We're trying to keep him sheltered in that arena as long as possible.
After our visit to the doctor, she agreed that his symptoms were more likely related to the drainage than a stomach bug. Whew...dodged that bullet! Momma's soo not a fan of the vomit! In fact, his sheets and clothes that were soiled found their way into the trash - there was no way I could stomach cleaning them!

To kill time before dinner, Nicky played in his pug dog costume. The tag said it was a 2/3T and the measurements implied that the costume would fit. However, the costume did not fit! We could get it on him, but by no means could we zip it up! So - he wore it more like a cape, but seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, so who am I to stop him!
Nicky & I had dinner, then went to our neighbor's (Pat & Becky) house - they have a party every year. Their 14 year old daughter had all her friends over, so Nicky got to see a bunch of
costumes. They all entertained him so momma could enjoy herself with the grown-ups. Nicky also played with Pat outside by the pool...thank you Pat! :) Nicky also got to sample some chocolate and cookies!
Even thou we had a few pitfalls along the way, I think Nicky had a good 1st Halloween. Can't wait to actually take him trick-or-treating!
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