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...


Florida Keys - Part 2 - Key West

Talk about your action-packed 2 days with a 3 year old! While in Key West, we definitely made the most of our limited time. Our flight left Dallas at 7am, which meant we were up and at 'em at 3:30am - ouch!!! We were very impressed with Nicky's behavior while going through security (we were afraid he would freak out when having to take shoes/back-pack off and relinquishing his "baby", Bevo. He went right through like a seasoned traveler and continued his awesome actions on the plane by sitting and playing fairly quietly! The most shocking part about the whole trip to Key West was the amount of food the kid put away - by the end of the day, he had eaten more than Kris or I! I think he must have been growing a bit, because he complained of some leg pains, and he never complains!

After landing in Miami, we drove for about 3 1/2 hours to our destination - the Leeward Isle - our home for the two days we were there. And it was just that - a 2 bedroom house in Old Town, just one block off Duval Street, where all the action was. It was the perfect location and we couldn't have asked for more with the amenities that were at our disposal. We had a small yard with a jacuzzi and there was a pool at one of the neighboring houses that were owned by the same company. We will definitely rent another one of their properties on our next trip to the Conch Republic!

After picking up some provisions at a local grocery store, we headed to dinner at Sloppy Joes, a Key West must. Not necessarily for the grub, although that was pretty tasty, but for the atmosphere and to chill in a locale once visited by Ernest Hemingway, among other notable characters. Since we were in Old Town, driving was not necessary, so Momma and Daddy enjoyed a few adult beverages - Rum Runner or Key West Sunset Ale anyone?
Nicky & Momma enjoying the band at Sloppy Joes...
After dinner, we headed to Mallory Square for the "Sunset Celebration". Basically a bunch of interesting people watching, street performers, arts and crafts, and a killer view of the Key West sunset. We ended our evening with a quick dip in the pool, and Nicky stripping down to nothing in front of everyone there because his shorts "were wet"! One of the funniest things we've seen him do yet!
Nicky and Daddy watching the sunset...
The next morning, we convinced Nicky to leave Bevo behind so he would be more focused on the sights and sounds Key West had to offer. This is a big deal because Nicky NEVER leaves home without a baby in tow!
Nicky tucking Bevo in for the day...
Our first stop of the day was the Key West Aquarium. It's nice and small and only has a few tanks with turtles, sharks and stingrays...perfect for a little dude that tends to get overwhelmed in big places!

Nicky & Daddy in front of the aquarium...
Poor little turtle with scoliosis...I can totally relate!
Nicky & Momma posing by one of the outdoor tanks inside old sailboats...
Nicky & Daddy discovering a conch shell...by the way...YUM!!! Konk Fritters Rock!!!
Nicky "petting" a nurse shark...um...no thank you! This kid has no fear!
We shopped our way back down Duval Street to our house for lunch, making a pit stop along the way. Don't worry - Nicky only drank 1/2 a Rum Runner! (just joking...Momma was smart & packed a Capri Sun for the trip!)
After lunch, we made our way to the Southernmost Point in the US...
We continued on to Higgs Beach, purported to be the most "family friendly" beach in Key West, where we spent the remainder of our afternoon, splashing in the water, soaking up the sun, and playing in the sand.
Nicky was more than happy to just hang out and dig in the sand. Notice the tongue...a sure sign he's enjoying himself!
After cleaning up a bit and taking a little rest, we headed out for some dinner, at Fogarty's. We had stopped in earlier in the day for a little pick-me-up, and decided it would make a good place for a nosh. Did I mention that konk fritters rock?! Second funniest thing Nicky's ever done happened just after we checked out the Sunset Celebration that night. We were crossing the street and somehow the little adjuster thingys in his shorts came undone and mid-street his shorts fell to his ankles and he waddled the remainder of the way! At which point, he proceeded to have a melt-down because he had been de-pants! Poor guy - but funny sight none-the-less!!!
Our final morning in Key West was spent at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. It was pretty cool...lots of butterflies and really pretty flora and fauna to check-out. Nicky was most excited to see the fish and turtles in the various ponds throughout the space.
My new tattoo...
As far as first family vacations go, this has to rank pretty high up there. We had such a good time and can't wait to go back. The best part was, we still had more of our vacation ahead of us!


Florida Keys - Part 1

"What dat? Touch it? Where going? Going next? Why? Oh. What dat? Touch it? Where going? Going next? Why? Oh. What dat? Touch it? Where going? Going next? Why? Oh. What dat? Touch it? Where going? Going next? Why? Oh."

This is a small sampling of the joy we experienced as parents on our 1st family vacation. And we wanted him to talk more why?! :) Nicky definitely came out of his shell a lot more on this trip and was very excited about his surroundings. Despite the Russian inquisition, we had a great time and can't wait to share more time traveling together as a family! (More to follow in future posts...)


Who Let the Dogs Out

"You guys might not know this but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one boy wolfpack. But when my parents brought me home from Russia and I met Blitzer, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolfpack, it grew by one. So there were two of us in the wolfpack. I was alone first in the pack and then Blitzer joined in later. And 6 months ago, when Gina introduced me to Riley, I thought, wait a second, could it be. And now I know for sure that I just added another guy to my wolfpack. Then I met Max and now there are four of us wolves, running around the Big D together looking for tomfoolery and ballyhoo. So today, I make a toast." (cheers from Nicky J!)

For those of you that have seen The Hangover, you might recognize that toast by the oddball brother, Alan. For those of you that haven't seen it...you really should - it's pretty darn hilarious! Anyway - the point of all that is this - Nicky seems to be part dog. Or at least, he wants to be! His new thing is to crawl around on all fours, bark and whine, and beg to be petted! And he seems to be quite fond of the furry four-legged pups in our lives. Well, except for Bailey - she kinda let him know who the Alpha Dog in the house was shortly after we brought him home, by biting him on the cheek. Who knew dogs didn't like to be tugged on, kicked and teased?! Apparently, Nicky didn't, that's who! So - here are a few pics of Nicky and his "wolfpack"...
Quite the change from the little guy we brought home 10 months ago, that did a spit/point/stomp combo while shouting at the dogs in Russian!


Just Keep Swimming

You know what you gotta do when life gets you down? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming swimming swimming. What do we do we swim, swim, swim? OH HO HO How I love to swim!

Ok...so clearly I've watched a bit too much of the Finding Nemo lately, thank you, Nicky! However, I find it very fitting for this post, as it is all about swimming and our little fish, Nicky. He's very taken with the sport and if we could only get him to move his arms, along with his legs, he might actually be good at it! He's had 2 swim lessons now and several afternoons spent in our friend Gina's pool and he constantly asks for more. Our neighbors gave us a great life-jacket that is almost impossible for him to drown while wearing, and it gives him such freedom to bob about the pool. He swims back and forth to each of us and plays with his random pool toys until he turns into a big prune! He loves to be thrown around and to jump in (as long as we're jumping with him that is...not so fond of the jumping, but that's another story altogether). Kris and I love to be in the water, so we're very thankful that Nicky enjoys it, and isn't afraid. After his first few baths when we initially brought him home from the orphanage, it was questionable as to whether or not we would ever get him in the water without shrieking and screaming!
Nicky in his life-jacket while driving to Gina's house...
Nicky riding his donkey, donkey with Gina...
Gangsta Nicky after noshing on some grub...check out that big ol' belly!
So, if you ever stop by the Johnson pad on the weekend, and we don't answer the door, chances are we're hanging out by the pool! (Thanks, Gina! We love you!)

Nicky's New Obsession

Momma's shoes! Pretty much every day when we get home and I am changing into more comfortable attire, Nicky will immediately grab my shoes and take them for a spin. He only wears them for a few minutes before he decides they're killing his feet...and the ones he's tried don't even have much of a heel! If he only knew...! Anyway, the funny thing is, as soon as he's done with them, he has to put them in my closet and makes sure they end up in the exact spot they belong! Is he my son, or what?!

A more casual look...posing with his 4-legged brother & sister

Ready for a luau...with his new side-kick Bevo in tow
I definitely think the socks totally make this look come alive!
He has tried Daddy's shoes on once or twice, but quite frankly, they're like aircraft carriers and I can barely move around in them, so imagine the trouble Nicky has! At the rate he's growing, though, he'll be spilling out of mine and catching up to Daddy!
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