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...


Mother Nature's Sense of Humor

Tonight, as part of our vegan diet, we dined on a butternut squash dish. It was quite tasty, as most of the new recipes we've tested out have been. We only have about one week left of the experiment, and I have to say, it's been pretty well worth the trouble. Kris has now lost 12 pounds and I've lost 7! We're also enjoying the comical foods we're coming across...
Now I have to say, there were butternut squashes in all different shapes and sizes, but I just couldn't pass that one by...not sure why. Thank you, Mother Nature, for making my grocery shopping trips more enjoyable!

Happy Halloween!

This is technically Nicky's 1st full-on Halloween experience...last year he attended his school party, but ended up coming down with a stomach virus and missed out on the trick or treating. There really aren't many young kids in our neighborhood, so for Halloween this year, we took Nicky to trick or treat at the Dallas Arboretum. They have 14 "storybook playhouses" decorated to represent various popular children's stories, which promote exploration in reading and imagination. The best part is they offer safe trick or treating, and to top it off, it's in the middle of the day! We loaded Nicky in the car, had a picnic lunch, and headed off in search of fun and candy!

Nicky all ready for his Halloween party at school on Friday...

All dressed up and ready to go to the Arboretum...

Nicky & Momma posing at the "Owl and the Pussycat" house...
Posing in the Pumpkin Patch...
This house is special in that it represents a Russian folk tale "Teremok" (aka The Small Cabin)
Trick or Treat! We "practiced" saying "trick or treat" all morning, and it actually sunk in - complete with the "thank you" after receiving the candy. Nicky waltzed right up to each table, by himself, without much prompting - he must've really wanted that candy!Daddy carrying Nicky to the house made from pumpkins...the ground was a mucky mess after all the rain we've had lately.
Nicky & Momma by the "Peter Pan" house...
After the Arboretum, we came home and got to work painting the patio furniture (as it's seen better days). Nicky, of course, had to "help"...sticking the tongue out is an integral tool to use when going about this type of work. Nicky's been pretending to be his "Pop" lately - coincidentally, Pop's go-to tool when working is the sticking out of the tongue!
Hmm...maybe letting a 3 1/2 year old help paint furniture wasn't a good idea afterall?! But...he sure did have fun!

We all had so much fun, we've decided to make trick or treating at the Dallas Arboretum an annual event. We hope you all had a safe and Happy Halloween!


"Everyone Poops"

This one's a double whammy...not only does it creep Kris out, being that it's a bird, but it involves one of our favorite subjects! Enuf said.



(Nicky sporting my swim-cap I had to wear when swimming at the "schwimmbad" (pool) while living in Germany. I assure you, it looked super-hot on me! For some reason, Kris thinks the swim-cap is super funny and loves to make us all put it on - including the dogs...not sure what it's all about, but we love him anyway! This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it's cute none-the-less!)

Back to "eff"...No, I'm not cursing...although, maybe a little bit as I find the humor in the literal-ness with which my son takes things. Sometimes, we just don't stop to explain things as efficiently as we think we have, and the subsequent reaction from a child is quite comical! This past summer, we subjected Nicky to a lengthy testing process to see where he was at developmentally, and to try to figure out what we could do to help get him caught up to his peers. Part of his diagnosis involved his speech/communication/articulation delays, so we started taking him to private speech therapy for the articulation portion (he already attends an early childhood school for the communication part). The results of the speech therapist's tests indicated Nicky has a lisp and is in the 11th % for articulation. So the work began; tackling the letter "f (eff)" to start. You see, Nicky tends to substitute the letter "f" for the letter "p". So, "feet" are "peet"; "fun" is "pun"; "finger" is "panger" (he changes the "i" to an "a" in this one, not sure why.)...you get the picture. Well, the other day I was trying to get Nicky to say "Spongebob" - he tends to drop the "sponge" off the name (thus calling him "Bob") because he also struggles with the letter "s". As I slowly and phonetically sounded out the word, having Nicky repeat after me, the letter "p" that he always pronounced with zest; the letter that was his strong-suit; had morphed into the letter "f"! It was then that it dawned on me. We never bothered to try to explain to him that there are different letters in the alphabet that make up the words we speak. Nor did we explain that each letter makes a different sound. So of course, we didn't tell him that there is a letter "f" and a letter "p" and they have their own respective sounds, and that he's correct in making the "p" sound. Instead, we practiced all these "f-words" (tee hee hee), teaching him to remove the "p" sound. It's no wonder he now thinks that all "p-words" should be changed to "f-words". Shew...that's a lot to wrap my brain around...poor little guy! Now what?


Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Yes, yes, I would like some cheese! However, Kris and I have gone vegan for a 28-day shape-up program initiated by the Mesquite Fire Department. Long story short, a fireman in Austin, TX created a diet called the "Engine 2 Diet", and it's geared towards improving cholesterol levels, reducing fat (no oil or sugar is allowed), eating "clean foods", and good carbs. The Mesquite City Planner thought it would be a good thing for one of the fire stations to try, and so being the supportive wife I am, we've implemented the diet at home as well. Problem with the diet - NO CHEESE (or no dairy to be specific)!!! What the?! I've been a vegetarian for years - "ovo/lacto" to be precise - but I've always had dairy in my life as a close friend! Kris and I are both big cheese lovers (those of you that know us well, know that Kris' nickname is "Cheezer"), so this has been a big challenge to say the least. We pretty much put cheese on any and everything...oh - and Ranch dressing...yummy! But, alas, we have 21 days (and counting) left of this craziness...if anything, it's teaching us a lesson in restraint. Nicky has not joined the vegan bandwagon, so it's been tough to give him both cheese and Ranch (he insists on "dip" at every meal...he'd dip his fruit in it if we let him!) - I've almost succumbed to licking Nicky's fingers just to have a "hit" of the good stuff!
There are a few good things stemming from this lunacy: 1) I've lost 5 pounds & Kris has lost 7 (not fair! why do guys always lose more?!); 2) we're eating more healthily - no processed foods to speak of; 3) I've gotten into cooking again (like I said - no processed foods - so I meal plan & cook for 3 squares a day!). It does take some time to prepare for each week, but hopefully the benefits will outweigh the negatives. Another negative...kinda gross, but has to be said...the gas stemming from all the fiber! OMG! Add to it Nicky's ever-present "2 a days", and oh man! Kris said the fire station is like a veritable "fart-fest"!
Now for the whining part...well, I guess I've been whining throughout this post as it is...I'm taking cues from Nicky. Man, does this kid whine. I wish I could add a good audio snippet of his talent, because goodness does he have it down pat! And it's over any and everything! I've read that children who whine will typically do so at the 2 1/2, 3 1/2, 4 1/2 & 5 1/2 marks...well, looks like it's true so far. We went through the 2 1/2 and we're at the 3 1/2 stage now...guess we have more acoustic stylings in our future! However, then he goes and does something sweet like walking me to my car, opening all the doors for me along the way, and waving to me until I pull out the garage, and drive away. (sigh) I guess like the sensible, yet nutty diet (literally - we eat a ton of nuts right now!), all things in life have their good and bad points!


Back to Jack

Beginning with the first visit to meet Nicky in St Petersburg, we have provided him with a "baby" for which to love and provide comfort. Since then, he's had an ever-changing love affair with a "baby du jour". He typically falls for one or another for anywhere from a few days, to a few months at a time, and will rotate them at will. Here are a few of the "winners" over the past year...
Nicky & "Mr Frog" (at the orphanage in St Pete)
Marley - a trusty sidekick for just over a month until it was back to Mr Frog

These musical dancing fools were a favorite for a bit...of course, they weren't allowed to leave the house, but you bet they were in action the second Nicky got home from school each day!
Tasha (aka "Tata" - he couldn't say the "sh" - we quite liked hearing him say this one's name...can't figure out why...)
Jack Bunny - Nicky's 1st Easter "baby" - also a lovely view of his post-face plant incident...
Nicky sporting Momma's heels with his friend Bevo (aka "cow"). He got Bevo as a birthday present from his Aunt Pam & Uncle David and for the longest time, Bevo was the winner. I think he had one of the longest runs as the go-to pal.
Then came alligator for a brief stint...
...until Shamu took over for a bit.
Then we went to Octoberfest where Nicky saw a real-life version of Jack Bunny... ...and we've been back to Jack ever since!
Kris thinks that he has way too many babies...they're piled on his bed, on his bookshelf, in a bucket and a dump truck. However, I agree with Nicky - you can never have too many cuddly friends that make you feel safe.


Life After the Pool

After a fun, lazy summer spent lounging by our friend Gina's pool, we've had quite the chore of finding things to occupy our weekends with Nicky. It's been challenging to find activities that are 1) inexpensive (it is a down economy after all), and 2) fitting for a 3 1/2 year old. His attention is only held for so long before he decides he's "over it" and on to other forms of entertainment - tops on his current list: hopping...a lot...all over the place; making random sounds...particularly those resembling animals; giving hugs/kisses...my personal favorite. Below are pictures from a few outings, which have kept us all amused over the past few weeks...

Momma and Daddy were lucky enough to sneak out for a half-day/night of adult fun, while Nicky held court with Nana and family friend Debbie.
Future Dirk Nowitzki
Nicky enjoying one of his favorite foods

Nicky was sure to inform Momma & Daddy that this fun bubble gun can only be played with "outtide".

McKinney Octoberfest with Momma and Gina
Nicky, Momma and Gina ventured out for a crazy day, riding ponies; petting pigs, bunnies and goats; eating yummy food and listening to music; and making new friends. Momma had a little mishap with her car, and about ripped the front bumper completely off! Thanks to the sweet-talking of Gina, who wrestled up an Audi/VW mechanic-type person, my car's good as new, and best of all - at no cost!

Yee Haw!

Do you think Daddy would notice if we brought him home?

Nicky's new friend "Beaudreaux" the horse-dog

Momma & Nicky enjoying the music before lunch

Once again...why do we buy him toys?!

Getting ready for the train ride

This is a great store, which sells fresh produce, bulk items, hard-to-find groceries, and all kinds of fancy stuff for "foodies". They have a section that prepares food while you wait, and a play area for kids (looks like a barn with animals, hence the "Donald's" - any red building is "Donald's"...doesn't quite have the "Old Mac" part down yet).
Bunless dog - and a big dog at that!

Old Nicky Donald had a farm...

Stay tuned for more tomfoolery we find in the weeks to come!


But the Cool Kids Did It...

Nicky has been sleeping through nap time without wearing a pull-up, and without having an accident since he started his new preschool in July (well - he has had 2, but hey, that's pretty good!). Yesterday, he had one at nap, and an additional one while he was playing - he either didn't bother to tell his teacher he had to go, or just didn't take the liberty to go by himself. So, my son was picked up from school wearing a random pair of boxer shorts (an older child's I'm sure, as they kind of looked like shorts), t-shirt (his own from the extra set we keep in his cubby - he had been wearing the extra shorts when he had accident #2), and bare feet. Hmm...don't think he'll make the "best dressed" list in that outfit! One of the random teachers (the school's so big we have no clue who half the teachers are) said that "management wanted to know if Nicky was potty trained, and do we need to put him in a pull-up just in case". Well, yes, he is potty trained, but apparently he's 3 1/2 and doesn't want to leave whatever fun activity he's engaged in to actually go to the potty to do his business! We talked to Nicky about "being a big boy and telling his teachers when he needed to go" and that he should "go on the potty like his friends", etc. Well, I just spoke with Nicky's teacher, and found out that Nicky was indeed going potty like his friends - apparently there were 11 other kids with accidents yesterday! Great - he was just trying to be cool and act like his peers. Now, how do we teach a 3 1/2 year old to "only act like your friends when they're doing the right thing, not the cool thing"?!?
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