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...


Sophie's Birthday Party

Today we helped celebrate Sophie's 4th birthday.  She's in Nicky's preschool class, and from what his teacher says, they're quite the pair!  The party was at Gymboree, and parents are strongly encouraged to participate in the activities.  I guess some of them didn't get the memo, because instead of joining in, they stood around the room barely paying attention.  There were a few that were so engrossed in conversation that they didn't even hear when their child was calling for them.  I on the other hand, thought it was great fun and unleashed my inner child!

The kids all jumped...
...danced and played instruments...
...put on a "parade"...
...chased bubbles...
...and pretty much ran around like little crazy people for just over an hour!  Perfect for getting the sillies out on a cold winter day.

Here are a few fun pictures of Nicky and his friends...
All was fun and games until this guy made an appearance...
And then when I looked around, he was everywhere and on everything - apparently he's the mascot, "Gymbo". 
Seriously!  Whoever originally thought that clowns make for fun was just plain twisted!  There is nothing amusing about clowns - have you seen Poltergeist or Killer Clowns From Outer Space?  Now that I think about it, I don't think I even cared much for them before either of those movies, and don't even get me started on the Circus!  Needless to say, there will be no apearances made by those creepy buffoons at Nicky's birthday party!

After playing, we all settled in for some yummy refreshments.  Here's the birthday girl getting ready to blow out her candles (which she ended up being too shy to do on her own so we all chipped in).
Nice.  Good thing the employee has plastic gloves on.  We wouldn't want any germs ending up in our food!  Gotta love 4 year olds.
Here's Nicky shoveling his cake in when they were given the 5 minute 'til the party's over warning...
As we were leaving, Nicky had a sad look on his face.  He looked up at me and said "we come here morrow?".  I guess it's safe to say he had a good time!  Up next morrow...neighbor Jade's 2nd birthday party!


"i have just little bit candy?"

Kris and I try not to indulge Nicky in a lot of candy, or sweets in general.  Not that we deprive the poor kid of any sweeties completely, and we do give him processed foods, etc, so we're not all granola or anything (although that kid does love him some granola!).  We figure we only have so many years that we'll be able to impress upon him the importance of healthy eating, we might as well take advantage of it!  He definitely gets cake and ice-cream on birthdays, and candy at Halloween and in his Christmas stocking.  But, it takes him forever to finish all the candy because his mean parents only let him have one measly piece a day (if that), and only if he doesn't whine/cry/beg for it first!  We're more on the philosophy that it should be a reward, not the norm.  Most of the time it doesn't even occur to Nicky that the candy is even in the jar on the counter.  He's blissfully content eating fruit, yogurt, and applesauce for dessert; carrots, pretzels, fruit, and graham crackers for snack.  There are the random nights when we ask him what he wants for dessert and he says "maybe cake?" - um, no, we only have cake for birthdays - "maybe cupcake?".  Gotta hand it to him - he's trying to work the system...and it's hard to keep a straight face with that kind of comeback!

Anyway, somewhere along the line, a monster was created.  An "I want it and I want it now" kind of monster.  A sweet little "i have just little bit candy?" (said while holding his cute little thumb and forefinger to demonstrate the size) turns into a complete tantrun/meltdown when denied.  Unfortunately, the ol' "just one day of over-indulgence won't hurt" has actually done just that.  Almost every day, the first thing Nicky asks is "i have just little bit candy?"; after school we hear "i have just little bit candy?"; again before dinner "i have just little bit candy?"; after dinner "i have just little bit candy?"; before bed "i have just little bit candy?".  You get the picture.  I know, I know - he just wants a hit of that good, good stuff.  And giving it to him every time he asks only makes him want it more; never giving it to him only makes him want it more; we're just trying to keep the status quo.  It sure is cute when he asks...which I know is his point - I just don't think that he knows, that I know, that he knows!  Parenting sure is fun when you get a "win" for a change! :)


Down the Hatch

Several months ago I mentioned that I've been plagued by the chronic, hideous migraine.  Since then, I've taken several preventative meds, as well as those for acute symptoms.  Unfortunately, all to no avail.  I'm now going (on average) at least 15 days each month where I have a migraine of varying levels of pain (typically ranging from a level 4 to 9 on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the worst).  I was going to a neurologist that was touted as being "one of the best in Dallas" - I beg to differ.  He never ordered any tests to be run, completely ignored my wishes, much less what I tried to tell him about the drugs he prescribed not working, and he had the most arrogant bedside manner...so I had to fire him.  I tried the holistic approach - chiropractic visits, which inclued a 30 minute massage on my "trouble spots" (neck and the constant pinched nerve in my right scapula); accompanied by a host of vitamins meant to help with migraines.  After working on me for a few months, my chiropractor decided that he had pretty much done all he could do, and there was no sense continuing since I wasn't improving (go figure - a doctor with a conscience!).  So, he sent me to a neurologist he works closely with, who sent me for a c-spine.  Diagnosis: I have a degenerated disk which is protruding at the C5-C6 level.  Awesome!  An actual reason for all the pain I've been experiencing!

Well, the joy has been short-lived.  Just before Christmas I received a cervical epidural injection to see if that would alleviate the pain.  It wasn't the most pleasant experience, not to mention the cost (over $1600 for one little poke - the entire appointment was less than 15 minutes!) but the results have been pretty good.  I can now turn my head to each side with minimal pain, and can almost touch my chin to my chest - that's no small feat, let me assure you!  The sharp pain I used to have when turning my head, and the burning sensation I had pretty much all day, every day, has all but subsided.  However, there are two caveats: 1) the pain is starting to return in my neck/shoulder/scapula, which means at some point in the near future my body will be longing for another shot, for which I do not want to shell out the money; 2) my migraines have yet to decrease, much less disappear!  I'm going on day 19 of head pain for the month of January alone.  I have moments where the pain is so bad I want to just ram my head through a window or into a wall.

Solution:  Depakote.  What's that, you might ask?  Well, it's a drug which was developed for a number of different ailments (epilepsy, mania, bipolar disorder - maybe it will help with a few of those issues as a sidebar!), that just so happens to help some individuals with migraine prevention.  Hesitation:  in some instances the active ingredients in depakote have caused life threatening liver failure!  And, if that wasn't bad enough, here are a few bonus side-effects, of which I cannot wait to experience (read with LOTS of sarcasm): hallucinations; unexplained weakness with vomiting and confusion or fainting; depression, anxiety, or other emotional changes (great, I have enough of those already!); extreme and rapid weight gain; and here's the kicker - hair loss.  Super.  So, I'm doomed to be fat, bald, confused and anxious!  I can't wait!

I know that those are just possible side-effects, and they don't happen to everyone, but from the different message boards, etc I've read, the weight gain and hair loss are pretty common.  Now I have to ask myself which is worse or more important - being headache-free or having my sanity, hair and decent figure?  I started taking the drug last Friday and I'm giving it 3 months and then I'll decide.  I figure I can't not try them for fear of what might happen, when what might happen is my head ceasing to ache!  Ah...that would be pure bliss.  If only there were a magic pill for random tantrums thrown by otherwise happy 3 1/2 year olds, then I'd really be in business!


Thank You Shout Out

dear granny and poppa,

thank you for coming to visit me while my momma went to see her friend. i had so much fun. going to see the dinosaurs was really cool, even though i was a little bit scared (don't tell my friends about that). i never leave the house without my new friend "dan the dinosaur".

nicky j.


belated thanks...

dear nana,

thank you so much for coming to see me at new year's and for taking me on a "date" to see that big mouse (aka "Chuck E. Cheese"). i love me some pizza and running around and playing games is right up my alley! i know my mom and dad had a nice "date" too, so they say thank you for letting them have some "adult time" - whatever that means. xoxo...

ps...tell pop i missed seeing him that trip!

nicky j.

"Your Son Can't Keep His Hands to Himself"

Huh?!  Like what do you mean?  Like he's a "ladies man"?!  Um no, Momma Johnson, your child has moved from being a vampire to randomly smacking his friends in their face, back, arm, and head!

This is how my evening with Nicky began last night.  I was in a great mood after work, walked into his preschool classroom, (they were all getting ready to join another group and when I saw him) and I gave him a big hug.  He proceeded to get his "baby" and as we walked to the door, his teacher says "Um, Nicky has an incident report today."  My first thought was "Oh no!  He fell down?  He got bit?  He's hurt in some way?".  Nope.  Quite the opposite.  Instead, I'm told that my sweet little Russky is a bully! 

(Does that look like the face of a bully to you?)

We talked for a few minutes and I asked if he was the only one in the class acting like Rocky Balboa (pic from worstpreviews.com), and she conceded that a few of the boys he plays with are a little defiant and rough.  Not that I'm that parent that takes the child's side and doesn't listen to the teacher, but I wanted to know if he was the lone wolf.  Thing is, he never hit his friends until he started playing with these other boys and we've never had any notes come home mentioning these actions from his other school, so it kinda made me wonder.

We also talked about the fact that Nicky has had several days where he is disruptive during circle time and lunch...but he's super-sweet (doesn't really make it all better)!  She told me that he has a hard time paying attention and will try to get the other kids to join in with his tomfoolery.  Keep in mind, he's only been in this class (Pre-K 1) for a few weeks, and we're already getting this news.  Another thing of note, Nicky's only at his preschool for circle time 2 days out of each week...therefore the ratio of paying attention to not so much, is well, not so good!  I also find it interesting that we get quite the opposite report from his other school.  All we hear from that teacher is that he's learning so much and acts like an angel.  Hmm. 

So, where do we go from here?  Well, I certainly do not have any ill-will towards his new school - we really like it and Nicky has really blossomed there (hitting, biting and all).  I told his teacher how much I appreciated her honesty and that we are the type of parents that welcomes feedback - good or bad.  I gave her a little bit of info about Nicky's background for a some insight.  She told me that when they are working with him one-on-one he does great and that they are really trying to help him with his fine motor skills (to get him caught up with the other kids his age).  I asked her to please keep us as informed, as much as possible, and that we would strive to work together for the good of Nicky.  My next step - contact the teacher from his other school...surely there has to be some common thread, right?  Or is it simply attention-seeking behavior because it's a large class at the preschool?  Too bad Nicky can't just tell us!

As I talked to Nicky about the hitting last night, I told him it hurts his friends and that it's not nice.  I tried to explain to him that his friends won't want to play with him anymore if he is mean to them.  We talked about keeping our hands to ourselves, and, that the teachers are very sad with his behavior.  He then said, "kyler hit me on head.", as if that gave him the right to hit 4 friends without provocation!  I told him the next time anyone hits him, he needs to tell the teacher instead of hitting back.  We'll see how it goes from here...we've had biting, now hitting...what's next pinching?  Scratching?  Pulling hair?  Goodness!


Another Sinus Infection She Says

Goodness this kid gets a lot of sinus infections!  They're very easy to spot, now that I know what to look for:  1. Wonky eye - puffy/swollen, red on the eye lid, dark circle underneath.  Yesterday's was even more fantastic, with the addition of a white-head pimple-thing...yuk!; 2. Runny, yet conjested nose - accompanied by some very lovely yellowish-greenish boogies...yummy; 3. Slight cough, but not productive, sometimes like a seal bark; 4. Difficulty breathing - kinda wheezy; 5. Occasionally accompanied by a hoarse voice.  Remind me why we have doctors again?!  I'm just as good at diagnosing these things as she is - I just lack the fancy degree...Nicky has a play stethoscope, so that's got to count for something!  Now, thanks to Alexander Fleming's initial, wonderful discovery that icky mold could actually be beneficial to your health, Nicky is soon to be on the mend.

She told us to try the saline spray up his little nostrils every day to hopefully ward off and flush out any grungy bacteria that might take up residence in his nose.  Let me assure you - Nicky is not going to be happy about that news... he's definitely not a fan of that stuff.  Let me also assure you, it's no fun to subject him to that trauma.  Sorry, buddy, but it's all for the good of your well-being.

On another note - as I've had some questions - our dear friend Jack Bunny has not been found.  He was a good, faithful companion for almost a year and will be missed dearly.  No worries though, Nicky has moved on to a new cohort - Lenny the Tiger (thank you, Aunt Marsha & Uncle Edward), and he will no doubt have many fun excursions with him in the future.

Update:  this post was originally supposed to be published on the 12th before I left town, but sadly, I'm a slacker and am just now getting the pictures uploaded.  That said - I'm happy to report Nicky has made it through this infection...fingers crossed, the next one is a long way off (I would wish for no more whatsoever, however, I don't want to tempt fate!)!


Thank You Girlfriend Gina!

To continue the back-log of blogging, I have yet another overdue post to complete prior to my trip across the pond!  Nicky's "girlfriend" Gina babysat him for Momma and Daddy one night so we could go to a Christmas party.  Nicky was surprised  that not only did he get to play with Gina for the night, but she brought him his Christmas present early...the loudest toy trucks...EVER (which means Nicky will play with them for hours on end, all alone...whoo hoo!)!  Nicky is obsessed with trucks and "trash trucks" have (for some reason) struck his fancy (he points them out very excitedly when he sees them on the road)...although I will back him on whatever profession he chooses, I hope a job with the sanitation department is not in his future!  Who knew that they made toy versions of them?! 

Anyway...thanks, Gina, you really scored with this gift!!!

(This is supposed to be a picture of Nicky hugging Gina, but it looks a bit like he's sniffing her armpit...oh well...)


Amount of time spent opening presents:  30 minutes

Amount of time spent taking new toys out of obnoxious amounts of little wires and tape and plastic:  1 hour

Preschooler spending countless hours playing with new toys unattended:

Father Frost Pays A Visit

Since we spent Christmas in San Antonio with Nana and Pop, we decided to have our own intimate family "Christmas" on New Year's Day.  We didn't want to have to deal with the dragging of all the gifts down there, only to lose some of the small parts, and then have to schlep it all back up to Dallas with us.  Plus, we decided that we should celebrate some of the Russian traditions - not that Nicky remembers (he has a hard time remembering yesserday - that's the way he says it), but we feel that it's important that we remind him of some of his past.  That said, Father Frost, or Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz), is the Russian, etc, version of our Santa.  However, he doesn't visit in secret like Santa, and he comes for the New Year instead. 

So, New Year's Day at the crack of dawn, Daddy returned from the fire station, and we had a nice, quiet morning opening presents and playing with Nicky's new toys.

Nicky played "Santa" and passed out all our gifts.  This one made a bunch of noise when he moved it, and was anxious to find out what was inside.

Here's Nicky playing with the noisy present (a dragon castle) after Daddy took all the annoying packaging off of it...

Kris and I decided we weren't going to do any big gifts for each other this year.  Along with random stocking stuffer-type gifts Kris got a pair of flops to wear around the house, a belt, socks and a puffy vest. 

Man was I surprised when I opened my last present and found this...

Yep, that's a Tiffany & Co box, and it contained a beautiful pair of earrings!  Dang it's good to be Queen! :)

Later that day, we were joined by Nana, Uncle Brent, Brenden and Emily for more fun.  Brenden had a double ear infection, so he wasn't feeling all that well.  Emily and Nicky on the other hand have really become bosom buddies!  They followed each other around and had a blast playing and goofing off.  They even started out sleeping together that night...

...but Emily felt lonely and wanted to stay with her Daddy and brother instead, to Nicky's disappointment.  Oh well, they have plenty of time for that. 

Happy (belated) New Year - we hope it's a blessed and prosperous year for you all!


Life Without Running Water

We're back up and running now, but let me tell you, there's no way I would have survived at that Little House on the Prarie!!!  Goodness - I've never been so thankful to hear the water running in the kitchen sink.  Kris and I high-fived and did the happy dance.  

I'll back up a little bit.  It was stupid-cold (as it has been across the US) last Thursday night, Friday, and Friday night and Saturday didn't really get above the freezing point for more than an hour or so.  Friday morning, we woke Nicky to get him ready for school and when I turned the faucet, nothing happened.  I frantically ran throughout the house checking each one to come to the aganozing realization that we had no running water whatsoever.  Apparently our main line froze - or right at the entry point to the house, who knows.  Our good friend Gina was nice enough to let me borrow her shower and take me into work that morning...my co-workers can thank me, for not coming to work smelling like I emerged from a swamp!  We were never able to find the point where the main line meets the house, so we weren't able to try any of the fancy de-thawing techniques we found on the internet.  Our plight was to sit and wait.

It warmed up a bit more late Sunday afternoon, and 2 hours after I "borrowed" a shower from our neighbors (figures - stuff always happens like that - just like going to the bathroom is the sure-fire way of getting your food to arrive at a restaurant), Kris tested it again, and we had water.  We ran it for a while, to check for any possible leaks, which might indicate that a pipe had burst, but we didn't see any water where it didn't belong...thank goodness!!!  You betcha we kept a few faucets dripping last night, just in case.  And, we learned our lesson for any cold weather our future may hold for that matter!

Thank you so much to Gina, and to the most wonderful neighbors in the world, for keeping us and our house hydrated, and from being too stinky! :)


Essentials for Living Without Running Water

Buckets full of water "borrowed" from the neighbors for the use of flushing toilets...

Gallons of water for brushing teeth, washing face, rinsing dishes (very few as we're eating out a lot), and filling dogs' bowls, etc...

Bottled water for drinking...

Booty wipes for cleaning the, um, booty (as well as the rest of the body and washing hands)...

...and Beer for maintaining sanity (Momma's that is)!

Merry (belated) Christmas!

Daddy worked on Christmas Eve and Day this year, so our celebrating was a little delayed.  It's so weird.  I know that technically, Christmas Day is just any other day of the week, but when you don't celebrate the holiday on that day, while the rest of the Christian world is, it's kind of odd and it made me feel a little wonky.  Nicky and I drove to San Antonio to spend the holiday with Nana and Pop on Christmas Eve, and Daddy flew down to join us on the 26th.  Nicky got to spend quality time with his Pop playing and watching tv...

...hanging out with his favorite playmate GG... 

...and making cookies with his Nana.

The extended Mills bunch got together on the 26th after Daddy's and Uncle Brent's (with Brended and Emily in tow) arrival.  Nicky was so excited to see his cousins that he couldn't wait to play. 

We all ate way too much...Erica - those little cheese/onion tart things were to die for!...here's Nicky enjoying some pickled okra...what 3 1/2 year old eats that?!

And then opened our presents...thanks to all for the fun gifts!  (Aunt Marsha - the new tiger, "Lenny", is Nicky's new go-to baby!)

The next morning, Santa visited Nana and Pop's house and we got up to check our stockings. 

After the present-opening frenzy...

...we had a yummy breakfast (thanks Nana!) and then got busy preparing for Old Nana's birthday party. 

We gave Emily a few "Polly Pocket" dolls and Nicky and Brenden enjoyed them just as much as she did!  Nicky got a barn and tractor from Nana and Pop and that Polly Pocket was right at home down on the farm!  Nicky was so enamored with her I told Daddy I was going to give Nicky a Polly Pocket set, dress him in a pink shirt (Daddy's least favorite color) and bring him up to the fire station for a visit...that didn't go over so well - but you bet I will take a TON of pictures if I ever get into a spiteful mood! :)

I think it's safe to say that Nicky loves spending time with his cousins...here's a pic of him cuddling up on the couch with Emily. 

We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  (not bad - only 2 weeks late posting this...oh well...at least I got my Christmas cards sent out on time!)

Cowboy Nicky

Since Nicky is now a Texan, we figured he should partake in some true Texan activities.  We celebrated our Mills family (my dad's side) Christmas on the 26th at my Aunt Marsha and Uncle Edward's new house in Seguin, TX.  It's out in the country and let me assure you, although we didn't come across any on this visit, the place is creeping with snakes.  I'm deathly afraid of the suckers and just walking around outside on their property is a huge feat for me.

Nicky on the other hand, is all about it.  The creepier/crawlier the better!  This kid is all rough and tumble boy - literally - he throws himself around on the floor like nothing I've ever seen...he has no fear!  If there's dirt/cars/trucks/diggers/dinosaurs/bugs/reptiles/animals, etc, he's all about it.  He's quite fond of cows...not sure why, but he wants to ride one.  I don't think he'd last 8 seconds...

We figured it would probably be best to start with riding a different 4-legged creature...one who's a bit more accustomed to having people on it's back.  Here's Nicky meeting his new friend Sunny...

We got him in the saddle and he couldn't stop smiling.  He held onto the reigns and wanted to know how it all worked.  We probably could've told him how to ride the horse and sent him on his way and he would've figured it all out - he's so good with that stuff.  Daddy and Susie (Sunny the horse's "Momma") walked along side Nicky; my fear of the slithery ones kept me next to the trailer and surrounded by other people just in case.

A few yards away from the starting point, Sunny decided he needed to shake a little dust off himself, and by doing so nearly threw Nicky off as well.  The little buckaroo held on tight and wasn't even phased!

By the end of the ride, he was practically riding all by himself.  He pulled back on the reigns and said "whoa" and stopped right next to me!  He had a perma-smile and wanted to go again.  (Thank you Susie for obliging!)  Alas, the ride had to come to an end, but Nicky told us "i ride dat horsey morrow".  Maybe not morrow my little cowboy, but we promise to find a place to take you riding soon (or when it warms up a bit...whichever comes first)!

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