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...


Who needs toys...

...when you can play in a tote bag?!
I bought this tote from Land's End, thinking we could haul Nick's toys, clothes and whatnot around in a stylish manner when we went on trips. I used the sizing tool on the website, which estimated I would need a size large...it looked neither too big, nor too small on the model in the picture online. Well, when I received the bag I found that it is much larger than expected, and their description for the large size should read: large enough to tote around an above average-sized 3 year old. Nicky got a kick out of it, and for the rest of the evening as we moved from room to room in the house he would ask "bag coming?". And we spend money on toys why?!?


Singing in the Rain

We've had quite a bit of rain over the past few weeks here in North TX, turning our streets into what resembles the canals of Venice. One evening as Nicky and I navigated our way home in our gondola - er, car - we talked about the pouring rain and the thunder booming from above. We could barely see out the windshield, and the wipers worked overtime to keep our view of the roads clear. Massive amounts of rain splashed up against the passenger side (the side where Nicky's carseat sits), throwing even more water onto the car. Nicky announced "I ot scared", from the backseat while vigorously shaking his head from side to side. He's recently become more frightened of thunderstorms (I don't blame him) and such things as shadows in the night. I tried to make things fun and told him to pretend we were in a boat as we turned down our alley - little did I know that we would be floating our way to the house. I was only driving about 7 miles an hour, and water sloshed up on both sides of the car in huge waves. Nicky became very excited and yelled "what dat?!". I sped up ever so slightly; enough to make a bit more of a wave and all I heard from the back was "again momma! again!". He had forgotten all about the scariness of the storm and had a big grin on his face. We pulled into the garage, and when he got out of the car, he walked to the back to see the rain rushing out of the gutters, down the driveway, into the alley. Just then, a huge clap of thunder sounded and sent Nicky running to hide behind my legs! Not wanting him to develop more of a fear, I took him to the edge of the garage and I stuck my hand out just far enough to be able to fill it up with rainwater, which I promptly splashed at Nicky while laughing. He giggled and said "my turn!". I remembered how much I loved playing in the rain as a kid and I figured, "why not?". So, I let Nicky stand further out from the garage, playing in the rain and the water rushing from the gutters. We sang songs and he laughed, squealed, and jumped with joy as he was soaked with the rain. This kid loves to play in the water, and although the thunder continued to rumble overhead, he realized he was safe and that storms could actually be fun!


San Antonio Fun

The Johnson's made the trek down the frustrating hwy 35 to San Antonio for the Labor Day weekend to see Nana and Pop. Unlike our trip down there last year, this one only took 4 1/2 hours and Nicky was more interested in the new movies on his dvd player than screaming at the trucks that passed by - thank goodness!

Our 1st stop on the San Antonio activity train was Friday morning/afternoon at Sea World. Nicky loves him some animals, so this was right up his alley.

He fed the dolphins...

The ducks...

And the sea lions & seals.

I think it would be safe to say that his favorite part was riding his first roller coaster. He rode it twice, saying "again!" after each time. I think we have a daredevil on our hands!

We continued the fun on Saturday with a trip to the San Antonio River Walk for dinner and a river cruise. If you've never done so before, I actually recommend checking it out...it was pretty amusing! I grew up in San Antonio, so I've made quite a few trips down the River Walk in my time. Nicky was very excited for the boat ride and it managed to hold his attention for almost the entire duration - thank goodness we went at night so he could see everthing all lit up. That boy loves lights!

Our 3rd attraction on the San Antonio express was riding the San Antonio Zoo Train. This was another activity in which I frequently partook as a young girl. The train meanders through Brackenridge Park, which sadly, has seen better days. Due to the drought, everything was pretty dead and threadbare. Nicky was so excited to finally ride a "choo choo"!
After the "choo choo" ride, we had a picnic lunch and played at the playground.

That evening, we celebrated Pop's birthday, and the extended family joined in for the ballyhoo.  Here's a pic of Momma, Nicky and Great Granny (aka GG)...Nicky helped Pop open his presents, but since he hadn't pooped that day, he couldn't keep his pants snapped! Every time he bent over, they would pop open; he would ask Kris for help; then would start the process all over again (at least 5 times in a row while opening 1 present!) - quite comical to say the least!
Unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end, and we sadly hugged & kissed our good-byes. It was fun to be a tourist in the city in which I was raised; it was only made better by sharing it with my husband and son!


"I like shower"

Nicky has recently taken a liking to having a shower as opposed to taking a bath. His initial thoughts of water, in general, were not the greatest - he screamed bloody murder the 1st time we plunked him into a bathtub. As time passed, he (thankfully) decided that he loved the water and whether it was in a tub or a big swimming pool, being in it was his favorite place to hang out. We have given him showers in the past - either when he needed a hose-down after a major explosion from the nether regions, or due to a lack of time for the full-blown bath in the evenings, etc. But, lately, Nicky requests the shower and I cannot recall the last time he's actually taken a bath. I think he likes the way the water feels coming out of the shower head or maybe he likes to be cold while waiting for the water to be turned back on (we turn it off while we're soaping him up)? With him, you never know! Any way you look at it, he enjoys the shower, and Momma and Daddy have cut the evening bedtime routine down significantly. It's a win-win situation!


"I Watch Baketball Momma!"

This past Sunday marked the beginning of Kris' favorite time of year - football season - or more appropriately titled "Fantasy Football Season". He is not hyped about any one team over the other, unless that particular team playing happens to have his Quarterback, or Defense, or Running Back, or...you get the picture. I find that it's a rather ADD way of watching football. It makes it next to impossible for him to watch Sunday Football at home, because he might have players playing on several different teams at the same time. So, unless we happen to install multiple big-screens all over our family room (so not gonna happen - don't even think about it husband!), he is resigned to venturing to a local watering hole with his friends for some camaraderie and trash-talking. Like a good husband, he returns home just in time for dinner. Since football doesn't stop to eat, Kris decided to continue his viewing pleasure, and what would be better than to add some father-son bonding time to boot?! As the two snuggled up on the couch (while I cooked dinner), watching the men in too-tight pants throwing around the pigskin, Nicky excitedly announced to me "I watch baketball Momma!" (he can't say the "s"). Even after correcting him, he continued to give me updates: "man throw baketball!"; "man catch baketball!" I guess we now know his favorite sport! Sorry husband, I know your dreams of mindlessly watching football with your son have been crushed for the moment. But - it could be worse - he could like jai alai or even worse - ballet!

New Playroom

Those that know me well, know that I like things to be neat and orderly. That's not to say that I'm a neat freak or anything; I just like for things to have a place and for things to either stay in said place, or return there after their use! Fortunately, Kris is a pretty tidy person himself - however, not to my extent. He loves nothing more than to move something a 1/4 of an inch or so, just to see if I notice. I used to jump right up and move whatever the object was back to its proper home; now that I know that he knows it bothers me, I try to wait it out...doesn't tend to last very long though! I did let Nicky hang his own picture on the door to his new playroom and although he did so upside down and very wonky, I left it there as is...for 4 whole days!!! Now, that's progress folks! That brings me to this story. I just couldn't take having Nicky's toys in our den any longer (almost one full year, mind you, and barely visible - but still!) and we created a playroom for the little noodle. It's been great! He has his own tv, comfy chair, mounds of toys, and a table with chairs just his size. Nicky is much like his parents - although I'm sure it's due to the strict orphanage upbringing - in that he likes for things to be tidy and in their appropriate location; so the way you see things in the pictures from the day we originally set-up the room, is the way it still looks today! The best thing to note about the new playroom, is that Nicky will actually go in there and stay in there, all by himself to play and watch tv! He's finally realized that "out of sight" doesn't mean "leaving you forever", and that's one of the best things he could have learned over this past year.

Back to School

As I've mentioned before, Nicky has a busy schedule for a little guy. He rides the bus to an Early Childhood school affiliated with Plano ISD on M, W, F for morning Speech & Communication class, then rides the bus to his new preschool for lunch, nap and afternoon fun. Thursday mornings are spent at Medical City Dallas Hospital for his Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy Sessions; afternoons are spent at his preschool. Tuesday is the only day during the week he's actually at one school all day long...and we're paying how much for his preschool tuition?! Miraculously, he's able to keep his schedule down pat. He'll tell us "I ride bus morrow.", and he's almost always right about that fact! He's been really good about all the upheaval and craziness that has become his schedule...I don't know about you, but I'd be wiped out! We had to move him from his original preschool because we felt that he wasn't learning much. Due to his developmental delays, they kept him in a class with children that were 1/2 - 1 full year younger than him. His new preschool on the other hand, is more age, rather than development-based, and I can say that in the few months he's attended the new preschool, he's grown in leaps and bounds (not to mention in size - he's in the 90th % and wearing a 4T on top, but still 3T below! he's got a really long torso - just like his momma - funny how they start to take on your characteristics!) He's speaking a whole lot more - and we wanted him to talk why?! He's still learning new words, so his sentences are still rather short for his age, but it's so fascinating to hear him manipulate the words he does know into sentences. Of course, sometimes this takes some deciphering by us parents, and constant question-asking to get to the point of what he's trying to say. But - wow - so much improvement from 1 year ago!
Of course, along with going to a school with his peers, and learning new things, also comes the things we do not like. Like him looking at food that he's otherwise always enjoyed and saying "I n like that." (for some reason he doesn't say the word "not" - he'll just use the sound of the letter "n" as a placeholder. kinda confusing at times because we can't tell if he's saying he does or does not like something!); or rolling his eyes when we ask him to do something, or worse - mimicking us! He's also started to play like the other kids - why is throwing yourself on the floor/bed/couch/whatever's there and then moaning and groaning for "help" a fun game? Can someone explain that one to me?! I walked in his class the other day and while the kids were dancing around, all the boys were flopping around on the floor like little fishes! What's that?! Oh well...I guess we've gotta take the good with the bad. After all, he can (most of the time) go to the bathroom all on his own (yay!); he's learning to recognize shapes and letters of the alphabet; and his conversation style is improving! Our little baby is growing up so fast! (sniff sniff)


4 Fabulous Years and Counting!

Today is our 4th Wedding Anniversary, and I love my adoring husband now more than ever! Neither of us can believe it's already been 4 years, and at the same time that it's only been 4 years. It doesn't seem like we've been together that long, but when we look back at all we've accomplished, it feels like a lifetime. These have been the happiest years of my life and I can't wait to see what the future holds. Here's to forever!!!



One year ago today, Nicky became a US citizen...in nothing but a windbreaker, diaper and tennis shoes no doubt! Poor Kris - I'll never forget the look on his face as he carried our nekked kid down the aisle on the airplane! I can't believe it's been a year since we made that 24 hour trek home with a little Russky we knew nothing about. Looking back, this year seems to have flown by; at times though, it felt as if the next day would never arrive. We've definitely learned a lot as parents. First and foremost, NEVER leave home without a change of clothes...you never know when your child will explode. Second, it's ok to make mistakes...we've made plenty in our first year as "grown-ups", but we've learned from them and moved forward. I find it so interesting that we're the parents, yet Nicky seems to be the one teaching us more about ourselves than we would have ever known without him in our lives. One such thing is to believe. Believe that anything's possible. Believe that your love does blossom for a child over a year's time, more so than one might have ever thought possible.Believe that tomorrow is always a new day; a new beginning. Which brings us to today. Nicky, Momma, Daddy and Nana visited the San Antonio Sea World - quite a different experience than this same day last year I assure you. As I sat and stared at Nicky watching and enjoying the Shamu "Believe" show, my eyes welled up with tears and I got a huge lump in my throat. The abundance of emotions from this past year were suddenly rushing over me all at once. I couldn't believe that we had made it through the year - all of us still in one piece; still together; still in love.I will be the first to tell you that I've had a hard time with the challenges that being a parent can pose. Add to that a child that is struggling with a speech delay, is strong-willed, and most of all dealing with a complete life change, and you have the potential for disaster! Instead, we've grown closer as a family and I now believe that if you work hard enough and want something badly enough, then you can have it all. I believe that this is what my life was supposed to be and I believe that we will continue to learn from each other and grow closer together. Cheesy, but true, if you Believe then anything can happen.


Nicky's 1st Baseball Game

Nicky, Momma & Daddy heading to the ballpark
Nicky all geared up for the game

Last night we took Nicky to his first baseball game. Unfortunately, it was not that of the mighty StL Cardinals, as Momma would have preferred, but that of the wimpy TX Rangers. They showed their true colors by losing to the Toronto Bluejays; 18-10. I know that I now live in Texas, therefore I should show my support for the local teams. But, I simply cannot bring myself to follow a team which is less than exemplary. What can I say...I'm a mid-western girl at heart! Our tickets were free (the best kind), and the seats couldn't have been better for Nicky's first experience...we were 16 rows up from the Rangers dugout! Luckily for Kris and I, Nicky seemed to really enjoy watching the game from the upper deck...where he will most-definitely be watching all future games if it's on our dime. Of course, we could always raid his piggy bank to foot the bill next time. :)
Nicky waiting to catch a foul ball

Several juice boxes, yummy cotton candy, a tour of the ballpark by Daddy and Nicky, lots of cheering, and two big poops (both by the young Mr Nicky - Daddy said they were so loud, that grown men in the bathroom couldn't keep from giggling like school girls!) later, we left the ballpark with smiles on our faces. Despite the Rangers' loss, a good time was had by all. It just goes to show that it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. In our case, good company and a beautiful night together was all we needed.

Nicky, Momma, Daddy & Gina heading home

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