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...


Fun in the Sun Weekend

hi friends...it's me, nicky j! :) i wanted to tell you all about my super-fun weekend i had with my momma and daddy. it all started saturday morning when momma took me to "darget" (Target in Nicky-speak) to buy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 toys for me to play with in my friend gina's swimming pool. i got a fun boat (momma says it's a raft, but it's big, it floats, and you can get in it...so it must be a boat!), some goggles that make me look like an olympic swimmer, a football for daddy, and a bunch of fun squishy animals that float around the pool - i'm so lucky! anyway...after nap time, we all went over to gina's house to swim and then daddy grilled some yummy food for us to eat for dinner. here are some fun pictures of us...

here's me all geared up and ready to get in! how ya like my goggles?!momma made daddy put this sunscreen stuff on me 1st - i didn't like it at all! i was just ready to get in that pool already!
here's me testing the water...it was a little chilly at first, so me and momma took our time getting in all the way.
silly momma said the water was still cold, so gina took me on my boat for a ride!

momma finally got in and i decided to play in this cool fountain thingy. it was so fun to put my feet on it and splash momma in the face!
my new nick-name is "nicky noodles" - not sure why - my momma just started calling me that, so i'm just going along with it cuz it sounds silly! anyway - here's me and my family floating on some noodles - i like those things! daddy used them like an elpant's (Elephant in Nicky-speak) trunk and momma used them as trumpets...these people are crazy!
here's me floating with my best friend ever - my dad!
ok - so i'll admit - after all this fun swimming in the sun i got a little sleepy...
...but then i got my 2nd wind when i got out of the pool and found this really cool door!
it was so much fun to go in and out of the house this way...we gotta get one of them at our house!
then i built me a fort with this cool chair...gina's got some fun stuff to play with at her house! thank you, gina for letting us come over to swim and play!!!
sunday morning momma and me went back to darget - she says she "forgot something" when we went yesterday, but i think she just likes that store! anyway - after we went there, she took me to this place called central market for lunch, with the promise of some playground time...she delivered! there was a big, cool old mac donald's barn thing to climb on with some fun slides! momma forgot her camera, so there are no shots of me in action, but she says we'll go back "later" (Note: if we don't do something right now with Nicky, it's always either in a minute, tomorrow and/or later & usually always in that order...as long as he knows he's getting what he wants at some point, he's good!). after nap time, daddy came home from work and we all went to the backyard to give the dogs a bath - they don't really like it, but it was pretty fun! i didn't like it when they shook all the water on me...why do they do that anyway? and - i got some dog hair on my hands & that was YUCKY! oh well - it was still a good time.

here's me brushing blitzer

and here's me helping momma spray bailey

after the dog's bath, i got to play in my water table...now that was more my speed!

after all that tomfoolery, i finally got to relax with my new "baby", sammy the cat (my friend gina gave him to me yesterday and he's joined me and jack bunny in all our antics around town today). i watched a new movie called the aristocats and i liked it a lot, so i might have to add it to my loop of movies. momma said she was "so over" shrek, nemo and lion king - whatever - they're my faves and i can't get enough of them!

here's me lookin' cool while i ate my yummy dessert! momma made some brownies and mixed it with some yummy vanilla yogurt (my favorite) and some blackberries! (Note: the sunglasses did not leave his face all day, except for sleeping and bath-time! He got so many compliments on them while we were out and about!)

well, i don't know about you peeps, but i had an awesome, fun-filled weekend! i hope you all did too and i hope you enjoyed my pictures!

smell ya later gators! nicky j :)


Family Trip to St Louis

I'll start out this post with a little bit of personal history... My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a bit, and we ended up in the St Louis, MO area. I ended up finishing high school and college there, and began my early adult years living and working in the area, so St Louis (StL) is pretty much where I consider "home" - at least as longevity goes, it's the place I've spent the most time during my 35 years on this planet. That being said, I've always wanted to take Kris there, but we've always had other more fabulous places that topped our travel charts (Europe, the Caribbean, El Paso...well...we do have family we're kinda partial to that live there!). My sister-in-law, Caroline, and her kids, Brenden (5 yrs old) and Emily (3 1/2 yrs old) just moved back to that area, so what better time to make a visit to my old haunts than with the little banshee (Nicky's most frequently used nick-name...he's a wild man!) in tow?! I've made the drive from StL to to San Antonio many a time, so I know every stop along the way, and am well-aware of the amount of time it takes to get from here to there. Mapquest said 10 hours and 1 minute...we made it there in 11 hours...not bad with a 3 year old I think! And - the funny thing is, we had to make more stops for Momma and Daddy than we did for the little guy! We are thrilled to report that Nicky was AWESOME in the car!!! He behaved so well it was unbelievable! I expected some tantrums and mayhem, but there was no ballyhoo coming from that backseat whatsoever! He was happy to sit and watch "The Lion King", "Nemo", "Shrek" and "Madagascar", and play with a few toys in between; he even took an hour or so nap! It was more of the same behavior on the way home too - he only had one little mishap...God was definitely on our side those days!

As for the visit itself - we had so much fun! The cousins got along famously! We couldn't believe how well they behaved together - they didn't have one single squabble! Sure, there were a few times that one didn't want to share with the other, but after asking them to they would always do so...very odd! And they were so cute together - they held hands everywhere we went and it was completely evident that Nicky idolizes his older (yet not much bigger) cousin, Brenden. They gave each other hugs galore and we all felt like one big happy family...Kris was even asked if the three kids were triplets!

Fun things to do while visiting the StL area

1. Watch a Cardinals Game!!!

(Nicky stayed at home with his Aunt Caroline & cousins while Momma & Daddy rooted for Momma's favorite team...go Redbirds...beat the Cubbies!)

(this is me & my friend Heather & her son...I lived with her in the StL area way back in the day! man do we have some crazy stories...that Nicky will NEVER hear!)

2. Feed the "quack quacks" at Brenden & Emily's house
(nicky looooves him some quack quacks! couldn't get enough of them! every day he wanted to know where they were and wanted to go out and check on them.)

3. Visit the St Louis Zoo
(wild & crazy zoo animals!)

(Nicky & Daddy just before the melt-down...in all fairness, we had just filled his belly and we were embarking upon naptime!)

4. Cruise around the neighborhood in the Barbie Dream Car
(Aw...don't they make a cute couple?! Meanwhile, Emily was shooting a mean game of hoops with her Uncle Kris!)

5. Visit the St Louis Science Center

(building the arch at the Science Center...good thing we had a tall dude with us! the kids thought it was great fun when it came toppling over and knocked Uncle Kris/Daddy over and they all fell on top of him too!)

6. Dance Party at the Mills House!

(I did have a video to put in this spot, but it was taking way too long to upload...trust me when I say it is hilarious!!! Man...Uncle Kris has some super fly moves! The kids' moves are pretty sweet as well...that Emily can get lowww! When we could get him to participate, Nicky very much loved running around the house each night after dinner and dancing like a crazy man!)

7. "Big Kid" party time...
(the children were safe, all snug in their beds with a babysitter...)

All in all we had a great visit, and we can't wait to go back to do it all over again!!! Nicky asks us if we're going to see Brenden and Emily every day now, and wants to know where they are and what they're doing. We sure wish we all lived closer to each other! :( Thank you so much, Aunt Caroline, Brenden & Emily for making our trip so fun and we hope we get to see you soon!

1st Mother's Day

A little late on posting about this momentous occasion, but oh well...better late than never, right?! My parents came up for the weekend, so it was especially nice. Even better, Momma & Daddy got to have an all-adult day on Saturday!!! We went to a matinee showing of the musical Rent - for those that don't know, I worked as an HIV/AIDS counselor in a former life, and this show really has a special place in my heart. I've seen it in London, St Louis, Chicago, and now Dallas! This was Kris' first viewing (other than the movie), and he enjoyed it as well. After a quick wardrobe change, we were off to a friend's wedding, where we enjoyed being amongst a few other couples we're friends with, and stayed up much past our normal bedtimes...and possibly had a few adult beverages as well!
In the meantime, Mr Nicky enjoyed an afternoon of playing with Nana and Pop, visiting the Dallas Zoo (he got to ride a "horsey" again!), and dinner at McDonald's! Here are a few pictures of the fun (as you can see in some of the pics his little face is still healing from the fall at school)...
Friday night Nicky and Nana played in Nicky's new sand/water table while Pop grilled us some yummy dinner. Nicky loved helping Momma water the plants, getting wet, and most of all, playing with all the toys in the water!
Daddy got up Sunday morning and cooked us all a big breakfast and Nicky gave Momma and Nana our Mother's Day Presents (a book and a watch for me & a necklace and earring set for Nana). Alas, the fun came to an end Sunday afternoon when Nana and Pop loaded up "Popt Truck" (as Nicky calls it) and drove back home. Now, every couple days Nicky asks "Nana Pop coming?" - guess that's a sign that he had a good time!


The Dreaded Incident Report

So there it was...waving in all its glory by the sign-in/out sheet as I approached Nicky's classroom this evening. The dreaded incident report. As I mentioned a few posts back, this is how the teachers at Nicky's school keep us parents informed about the little (and big) mishaps/accidents that go on while our little angel is away from us. We have received a few telling us that he's fallen down while at play; and two have spoken of a "friend" biting Nicky. When we've asked him who the biter was, he tells us it's the big bad "Darlet" - the name has been translated to "Nicky speak" to protect the so called innocent (I, of course, added the "big, bad" part). Funny thing is, the teachers completely leave off the "innocent child's" (aka antagonist) name from these reports, however, Nicky is all too willing to supply the name for us when asked! Today's report was no different. It read something as follows: "A "friend" pinched both of Nicky's cheeks while they were in the bathroom washing their hands and left scratch marks on both sides". Hmmmm...a friend? Really? I don't know about you, but my friends don't tend to do this type of activity with my face, nor do they practice random biting techniques on my person! (well...Kris might...but that's another story all together and this is a PG blog! LOL!) My point is, I never believed my mom when she would tell me that the boys that picked on me at the playground did so because they "liked me" and that was just their way of showing it! Nor do I believe that is why "Darlet" is doing so now. I have to mention, "Darlet" is a big girl for a 3 year old - and she totally looks like a "Darlet" too - big, mean, and burly! I probably should't say that about a little kid, but dude...she's picking on my baby! So - what do I do about it? Well, I suppose the grown-up thing to do is call Nicky's teacher and find out what part he has in this. Maybe "Darlet" isn't doing these things completely unprovoked - Nicky does have a way of pushing one's buttons...I've got some buttons...he's been known to push them. But...look at this face...maybe "Darlet" really does merely have a crush on him and he just won't go steady with her... Of course, if she doesn't knock it off, there won't be much of his cute face left!

"Be Right Back" - Part 2

In an earlier similarly titled post, I mentioned how often we use the phrase "be right back" in our household. Well, I didn't fully understand how important this little phrase was until I neglected to use it the other morning when I left Nicky alone in the bathroom. It was the same as any other morning. I put him on the potty, grabbed his pull-up to take to the trash in the kitchen, told him to go "ocaccalo" and that I was going to get his breakfast. I all but said "be right back". I assumed it was implied. Well, we all know what happens when one assumes things. I'm in the kitchen, preparing breakfast, when I hear the loudest, most urgent, blood curdling screaming coming from our master bathroom. "Momma! Momma! Momma!". Back to the bathroom I went, running as fast as I could. I thought he must have launched himself off our handicap-height toilet (Kris is rather tall, and therefore purchased a taller than normal, toilet for our bathroom) and banged his head on our iron pedestal tub. Nope, not so. Not so at all. As I reached the water closet area, Nicky immediately stopped crying, looked up at me from the toilet, took a deep breath, and with tear-stained face said "Momma. Be right back?". Note to self: Do Not Leave Child Unattended Without Telling Said Child Where You're Going and That You Will Be Right Back!!! Once again, the child has trained the stupid parent.

The Migraine

So, here it is, the big excuse. Once again, it's been a while since I've last posted. "Why?", you might ask. Well, the answer is this...the non-stop migraine that will not leave my head. I've had this current bad-boy that will not leave for just over 3 weeks now. And I'm not talking about any old mild-mannered headache. I'm talking about a knock-down drag-out pounding, piercing, throbbing, makes me wanna scoop my brains out kind of pain. I'm busy enough to push through the work week, crashing as soon as we get Nicky to bed. However, when the weekend comes, and I finally have a minute to rest, it's like my body completely shuts down and the pain in my head consumes me and sleeping is the only thing I am capable of. It's horrible. I don't want that for me - and especially not for Nicky! How terrible is that for his first memories of his childhood to be "Momma sleeping?" Thank God for my wonderful, understanding husband who has been there to do the laundry, the dishes, take care of the screaming wild-man that can be our son, and to keep our household together. If it weren't for him I would probably look as bad as I feel.

I'm seeing a neurologist who has put me on a daily pill (topimax), which is supposed to help me have fewer migraines each month, but it's not working one bit!!! The pill is actually one that's prescribed for people with epilepsy, and they've found that it helps those that suffer from frequent migraines. All I've found that it helps with is giving me new ailments like: 1) food aversions - carbonated beverages taste flat (i.e. can't drink beer! and I LOVE beer!!!) and I can no longer eat scrambled eggs (I can take or leave those, but beer?!); 2) paresthesia - makes my fingers/toes/lips/tongue very tingly & if my foot ever dares to fall asleep, it takes forever to wake up & hurts like heck when doing so!; 3) memory loss - I kinda feel a little silly at times (I am a dumb blond, after all) - I'm not able to come up with the easiest of words or the names of people I see on a daily basis. The worst part is I'm getting absolutely no relief whatsoever and these side effects are only the mild ones...I could get kidney stones, cognitive/neuropsychiatric adverse events (huh?!), more fatigue (like I need that...I have a 3 year old to make me tired!), and further reduced cognitive capacity. Great. The only positive thing is this pill helps with weight loss...not that I need a lot of help in that department, but I am a girl and girls always want to lose 5 pounds or so! I go back to see him in July, and if I don't see any improvement by then, off this pill I go...I just can't take it. If any of you fellow migraine sufferers out there have any advice...I'll take it! In the meantime, I have been taking several other migraine drugs (Maxalt/Axert/Treximet/Zomig) that are supposed to get rid of them and I'm here to tell you that they don't work. At all. My head just laughs in their faces. Then there's the over-the-counter stuff. Tylenol? Yeah right. Aspirin...are you kidding me? Excedrin Migraine...well, at least I got some caffeine out of it! I feel like a walking pharmacy. I wish I could get a refund for every pill I've taken that hasn't helped me...I'd take Nicky to McDonald's! :)

Anyway...enough of my whining. Just had to get that all out...now back to blogging as usual!

ps...thank you so much to my husband who I appreciate and love more than he'll ever know!


"Momma/Daddy Happy?"

When we first looked into adopting a child from an orphanage setting I did a lot of reading about how living in these types of settings could effect children emotionally. Of course, the shorter the time frame the better, but unfortunately, neglect is neglect, no matter how long the duration. One of the things I kept coming across dealt with empathy and bonding/attachment. There are many books out there which discuss these issues, and the sad truth is that a child doesn't have to come from an institutionalized background to present difficulties in these areas (but that's another story). What we are surprised to see from Nicky is that even in the midst of a complete melt-down tantrum, if either Kris or myself happen to smack our elbow on the doorjamb or hit our arm on the couch, Nicky will stop and ask us if we are ok. He'll ask "Momma/Daddy owie?" or "Nikita kiss it?" and afterwards will make sure it's "better?". It is also very important to him that Momma and Daddy are "happy" and he will ask us this at random throughout our days together. He'll tell us he is happy too, and then give us big hugs and smatter us with kisses. Sometimes it makes me sad though, because I really wonder what he's thinking - is he wondering if he's doing enough to please us? Or is he simply letting us know that he is truly happy in his new life? I like to tell myself it is more of the latter! And - I'm so very thankful that somehow, with all the adversity he's been through in his short life, he's managed to form a bond with both Momma and Daddy and he does have the ability to show empathy...we must be doing something right!


Lately Nicky has been very interested in going to "Donald's". Momma and Daddy were under the assumption that this meant "McDonald's". So we are clear, we are not one of those families that frequents fast food joints for our meals, nor are we the variety that believe that they are the root of all evil. Being a vegetarian myself, I find it difficult to find a satisfying meal at most of those establishments, therefore there's really no need to go as a family. Nicky and I have visited McDonald's once here in the US (we all went as a family in Moscow because it was pretty much our only option as everything was either 1) too darn expensive; or 2) too darn written in Russian and we didn't know what we were ordering!). Nicky and Daddy have been to Chik-fil-A a few times - mostly after major trips to the doctor (i.e. enema, upper GI scan...). And - on these jaunts we were lured more by their playground funness than their savvy cuisine!
Every time we pass by our local McDonald's, Nicky gets really excited and shouts "Donald's!" I'm sure he does remember us going and playing there, that I don't doubt...it was fun. Thing is, he's now talking about going there all the time. Like I said - I can pass on their cuisine. So, when Nicky asked if "Nana, Pop coming?", and I told him that they were coming this Friday, and he then asked me "Donald's?", well, I thought to myself "Sure! That's what Grandparents are for, right?!". I told Nicky that we would go to McDonald's when Nana and Pop came and that seemed to make him very happy.

On another note...Nicky has been singing "Old MacDonald" a lot lately. This kid loves to sing! "Moo moo here...moo moo there..." - you know the song. Well...it hit me tonight. As we were driving home from school Nicky asked me if Nana and Pop were coming, which I told him "yes, in 3 days" and then he asked me "Donald's?", which I told him "yes, we'll go to McDonald's and play", then the light bulb went off. Nicky then asked me "see cow Donald's?". OHHHHH! He thinks that "Old MacDonald" and "McDonald's" are one in the same and that if we go eat there, we'll not only play on the cool playground, but we'll also get to play with cows, sheep, ducks...!!! Interesting - I'm the grown-up...why did it take me so long to figure that one out?! I told him there weren't any cows at "McDonald's", but he could play on the playground, so he told me "ok. cow later?" "Well...maybe some day." Nicky's final answer "cow tomorrow." Enough said.


"Be Right Back"

Ah...the phrases you don't realize you say a lot until you become a parent and your child throws them back at you. Well..."be right back" is definitely a frequently used one in our household. The most typical scenario is in the morning when I put Nicky on the potty to start our day. As I turn to leave the room to begin my morning make-up, etc ritual, I say "be right back". Actually, any time I leave Nicky alone I tend to say "be right back", and have said that same thing since we brought him home 8 months ago. Well...a few weeks ago Nicky turned the tables on me.

Daddy was at the fire station and Nicky and I had just gotten home from school. I had to use the potty, and it was evident I was going to be a little while, so I had asked Nicky to bring a car into the bathroom to keep him occupied. Now, let me just clarify - I know this sounds a bit odd - or gross...but - you fellow moms out there know it's next to impossible to have any time alone whatsoever to take care of "business", so, ya gotta do what ya gotta do! Not to mention - him playing with a car was much better than him wanting to sit on my lap and read books with me while I was sitting there!!! Anyway - as Nicky turned to leave the bathroom, he reached into the basket full of magazines by the potty, grabbed one for me and put it in my lap. He then took both of my hands and put them on my knees, pointed to the toilet paper and told me "no touch" (I suppose this is due to the last incident when he tried to wipe himself)! As he sauntered (or swaggered, it was hard to tell which it was, but it was much more than a mere walk...) out of the bathroom, he looked over his shoulder, out of the corner of his eye, and said "be right back"! He came in a few times after that over the next few minutes and checked on me, each time telling me "be right back" before exiting the room. I'd have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable moments I've ever had in that room of the house!


Got Swine?

Ok...ok...so maybe it's not that funny, but with the current mass hysteria that is going on regarding the Swine Flu Pandemic, I couldn't resist! The unfortunate truth of the matter is, that the Johnson household has been a less than healthy one this week. Nicky has yet to recover from the residual effects of The Croup, although, I am happy that the seal bark has disappeared...that was just so sad to listen to! :( Thursday afternoon Nicky's lead preschool teacher called to inform us that he had a fever and that we should probably come and get him. This was after receiving several emails from his school letting us know how they were handling the flu from the pigs, and that they were taking every precaution to ensure the children's health and safety. That means that any sign of a cough/fever in any child and they are sent home and can't return without a clean bill of health from a doctor. I had already decided that the constant flow and amount of greenish snot coming out of Nicky's head was not normal and, given the duration of his cough, we should probably return to the doctor soon anyway...this just gave us more of a push. The doctor took a look up Nicky's irritated nose and listened to his chest and told us it was most-likely a sinus infection, prescribed the most foul-smelling antibiotic ever, and sent us on our way. Now if that flow of snot would cease...

In the meantime, Daddy Johnson announces that he "feels like crap". When asked what symptoms he was experiencing, he said "fever, achy, headache, congestion, cough..." - sounds like the flu to me! So - after much prodding from Momma - off to the doctor he went after taking Nicky to school. The doctor seemed to believe it was some type of viral infection, or the like, however, took the necessary precaution of swabbing Kris' nose (which he says is quite unpleasant and made him cry...poor baby!). Seeing as though the CDC has yet to call us to move us from a "possible" case of the swine flu to a "probable" or "definite" case, I suppose we're in the clear! Whew! That's all we need! I'm glad to say that both boys are doing better...let's just hope the little pigs (snicker!) didn't infect Momma with anything!

On a lighter note...our friend Gina came over to play this weekend, thus enabling Momma to visit the eye doctor on Saturday, as well as Momma and Daddy to have a date on Sunday! (Ok - so - it wasn't that HOT of a date...we did have a meal sans child, which is always pleasant, but it was lunch...but, hey, I'll take what I can get! We got to see a movie - always a nice treat...and so few and far between anymore! But - the highlight of the afternoon had to be the moment we purchased 2 new toilets at our local Home Depot! Parenthood is soo romantic!!!) Anyway - here's a picture of Gina and Nicky playing in the sink with those little capsules from which dinosaurs "grow". Nicky loved it...although, I think he was more excited about the fact that he got to play in the sink! What is it about little boys and playing in sinks?!
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