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...


S'more...and not the ones you eat

Nicky's preschool class was all aflutter yesterday afternoon when I went in to pick him up.  They had a field trip to the local Petco that morning and had adopted a class pet...a guinea pig!  He's soo cute and all the kids were squealing as each parent came in talking about him and asking if they could get him out of the cage to show him off.

He's a little shy, and I'm sure a little stressed out from his busy day, so he was doing a lot of hiding under his little loft area.  I think if I were scooped up and placed in a room with 25 crazy 4 year olds I would want to do some hiding out myself!

I think Nicky was just as excited about S'more as he was his cage.  He showed me where his food is and how he gets water and that he can walk up the ramp.  It's funny what tickles this kid's fancy.  Kinda like giving a kid some fun and extravagant gift and all they want to do is play with the box it came in!

I'm not sure how they will be taking care of S'more over the weekends.  If we get to take him home, I'm sure our four-legged kids will really go crazy!  Not to mention...he's so cute, Momma might want to get one since Daddy won't let us get another puppy!

The Little Russky's Officially Americanized!!!

Yesterday we received Nicky's Texas birth certificate in the mail!  It's all in English and it lists Kris and I as his official parents!  Not that the Russian version didn't, but something about having an actual American one is totally different!  Can you tell I'm a little excited about this?!  Of course, Nicky has no clue what any of this means, but hopefully some day we'll be able to show him the blog (we'll have to figure out how to hide the embarrassing posts!) and he can re-live the process we went through to give him his new (hopefully improved) life.  We're so thankful for everything we have and no matter the D.R.A.M.A. this dude throws our way, we wouldn't want to have our live's any different!


Good Bye Basel...We'll Miss You!

A few weeks ago, Nana and Pop had to say good-bye to their little doxie, Basel.  Kris, Pop and I had gotten the little guy for Nana as a birthday gift 5 years ago.  Doxies are known for having back problems (their stomachs weigh down their backs), and sadly, little Basel was stricken with a paralyzing effect which even after an expensive surgery could leave him crippled.  Nana and Pop struggled with the decision, but in the end knew that a life in a wheelchair for this rambunctious, energetic, feisty pup that loves to run and jump was not an option.

Nicky was pretty taken with Basel, probably because he was just his size, but to his dismay, Basel rarely shared the sentiment and instead would growl or nip at him.  After talking to Nana, we told him that Basel had to go to heaven, which really confused Nicky...how do you talk to a 4 year old about death?  So, we used the Lion King reference and told him it was like Simba's daddy and that Basel would not wake up and that he was in heaven with God and Jesus. 

There were a lot of "oh dat sad's" and "i kiss nana pop's" and "it be ok's"; followed by a lot of "i no want bitzer bailey got dead" and "i no want momma daddy got dead" and "i no want to got dead".  How do you respond to that?  We told him we would all do our best and tried to reassure him that he was safe. 

Now it seems that everything bad that could happen results in "got dead".  For example - if you walk out into the street and a car is coming you will "got dead" (good possibility); if there's a fire in the house "the smoke and fire will come and bitzer bailey will got dead"; if "you get sick you could got dead"; if "you jump off someting you could break youself and got dead" (as in Basel's case); etc.  I think it's time to find a book which better explains this whole thing, because somewhere along the lines we've gotten the little guy pretty scared!

It's so strange how animals become such a fixture in our lives...even if we try to deny it along the way and try to pretend they don't mean as much to us as we know they really do.  Nana and Pop - we love you and hope you guys (and Brie and Max) are doing ok without the little guy around.  We loved him very much and will miss seeing him on our visits.


Our Other Baby

Before there was a Nicky there was a house.  A house that was very dated and had been a rental house from the day it was built in the 1980s.  Then along came us Johnsons with our big ideas of sprucing up the place to bring it up-to-date.  Four years later, and we still have a long list of things we want to do with our first child!  We've replaced all the floors throughout the downstairs; remodeled the kitchen and the master bath; painted the entire house; gave the upstairs and downstairs guest bath a facelift; painted and redecorated the living room and office/playroom...twice!; painted and installed a chair rail and crown molding in Nicky's room; painted and added crown molding to the guest room - and now it's ready for a make-over (or rather, we're ready to give it one); we've extended the back patio; and added a front porch.  Oh - and how could I forget the addition of our awesome siding?! (although you really can't see it in this pic, but you can see the new front porch and the pretty painted new front door!)

Our neighbors are always asking what we have in store next - most of them have lived in the 'hood since the houses were built and really haven't done much in the remodel department.  We are obsessed with watching HGTV and DIY and are constantly thinking of new things to design and different ways to decorate.  I don't think we will ever be done with the project that is our house.  I think we might go completely stir-crazy if we didn't have something up our sleeves!

Our latest project was ripping out all the existing builder-grade, holly bushes, etc and exercising our green thumbs to try and up the curb appeal.  I don't think it turned out too shabby! 

Kris is really the one that should get the props - he did all the heavy lifting; I just did the "designing".  We had some organic mulch delivered, which he spent an entire day shoveling and distributing in the plant beds and around the house. 

Of course, Nicky "helped"...

Then Kris spent another day being bossed around by me as I told him where I wanted him to plant things!  His little helper was sure to keep him in check as well :0)

Nicky was worn out from all his hard work...

...but he made sure to keep us well hydrated...

We still have a little bit of work to do - we need a few more plants to fill in some spots, but overall, we're pretty darn happy with our results!  It's definitely much better than it was before.

Re-Adoption Day

Early in the morning on June 4th we climbed into the car to go to the Juvenile Justice Court for our re-adoption hearing.  "Re-adoption?  But I thought he was already yours?", you might be thinking.  Well, yes, he is all ours.  Our names are listed as his parents on his birth certificate (which seems kinda weird to me since I don't really recall ever going into labor!), but the birth certificate we have is RUSSIAN.  Meaning that it's pretty illegible to the untrained eye.  Not to mention the fact that if (God forbid) anything were to ever happen to it, replacing the document would probably be next to impossible.  So, to play it safe, and to make things easier down the line, we decided to go through this ceremony in order to have a Texas state issued birth certificate.  Kinda cool when you think about it - we've come so far!

The whole way there Nicky was a pain in the arse booty.  He threw a major tantrum and proceeded to kick the back of my seat in the car repeatedly.  We arrived at the courthouse rather early, so Kris took him outside and they walked around a bit to let some of his energy out.  Knowing there would be policemen/guards inside the building, we kinda fibbed and told him that if he didn't behave, they were going to take him and lock him up in jail.  (that's not so bad, right?)  Although he didn't like the sounds of that, he continued to run amok. 

Nicky was actually very quiet while we waited for the first family to go before the judge.  His eyes were wide as he looked from the policeman to me and back.  I held Nicky so he could see the judge and we went through the painless process of our Lawyer asking questions of us - first Kris then me.  Nicky decided he was going to play the shy card, and wouldn't tell anyone his name, nor would he look while we tried to get a picture of the three of us after the judge gave her blessing (as evidenced by the side-of-his-head shot in the picture above).

We should have his new birth certificate in a few weeks.  We knew going into this process that we would be completing this task around the two year mark.  At the end of August will be two years as a family.  We are constantly baffled at how time flies and at the love that has grown from and for all of us. 

Man...I'm a cheeseball!!!

Nicky Loves His Daddy

Since Daddy worked on Father's Day, we celebrated on Saturday.  Nicky gave him his cards and we all made a trip to Home Depot so Daddy could pick out his router/table combo he wanted.  There was no way I was gonna try to pick that out! 

Nicky also made a handprint impression for Daddy at school, and answered a few questions about his Daddy, which we found quite hilarious...see below!

  1. I'm am indeed a few years older than Daddy, but if he's only 5 as Nicky says, then I'm really robbing the cradle!

  2. Daddy wasn't too keen to hear that he weighs "big" pounds, but I guess to a little guy, Daddy is big with all 6'5" of him!

  3. Wow, being "big pounds", it must be quite the challenge to find clothing that fits if you're only 1 foot tall.

  4. Hmm...black hair?  Well...it is darker than mine and Nicky's, but far from black.

  5. He did get his eye color right...but...then again, green is Nicky's favorite color!

  6. Daddy DOES indeed wear a lot of blue shirts...I better start buying some in different colors for him!

  7. Now you know our dirty little secret...pasta, pasta and more pasta...we LOVE our pasta...and carbs in general!

  8. I suppose watching Dora is better than mowing the lawn...although...that darn "map" song really is annoying when it gets stuck in your head!

  9. Yep - we only watch Nicky's shows...if he only knew the craziness that goes on after he goes to bed (who am I kidding?!).

  10. Guess a favorite song doesn't matter...if it has a good beat we are usually dancing in the car.

  11. Nicky's favorite place to go play is at the mall and Daddy is so awesome and takes Nicky when Momma needs some time to herself (thanks Daddy...you're the bestest!).

  12. This one makes me sad, although it is true...Daddy is happy when Nicky stops crying!

  13. Yeah right...Daddy buys strawberry yogurt?!  Um...no...Momma does the shopping...Daddy gets all the credit...

  14. So true...the trip we would take if we could would be to the beach...and I would hope Daddy would bring his suit, or that would be an altogether different beach that I'm not sure I would want any part of!

  15. The last one makes me smile...Nicky does love to cuddle on the couch with his Daddy...and I love to watch them doing so...makes me fall in love with my wonderful husband all over again!
We love you Daddy!


Happy Father's Day!

Kris had to work at the firestation on Father's Day so Nicky and I decided to go and visit him for a bit.  We stopped at the store and picked up some ice cream - cops might be known for loving doughnuts...but here's a little known fact...firemen love ice cream - we figured it would make for a nice touch for Father's Day.  We arrived just before lunch and it was a full house.  There were several firemen from other stations there, and the Chief (aka big dog) was there as well.  Nicky, of course, was a little shy at first, and since the majority of the boys were outside, Nicky wanted to tour the house first.  He was pretty fascinated with the kitchen, in that it was actually a kitchen - not sure what he was expecting!  He pointed out every appliance they have.  We checked out the weight room and where Daddy sleeps, and Nicky made a pit stop in the big boy's potty. 

From there, we went back into the garage, and even with a bomb truck, ambulance, chief's truck, and fire engine, here's what caught Nicky's eye first...figures...

Here he is checking out the ambulance with his Daddy the hero...

...and the fire engine.  Do you know the difference between a fire engine and a fire truck?  Most don't, and I didn't until I got hitched to a strapping young fireman.  An engine pumps the water and although it does have ladders on it, it lacks the big one on the top.  A truck is the one that has the big ladder on top that extends.  See...now you've learned something for the day!

Next, Nicky drew on the fire chief's white board...

As our tour came to an end, Nicky announced that he was hungry, and that he wanted some ice cream.  I'm proud to say that I lived on the edge and allowed him to eat a little bit before his lunch!!!  Who knew?!

The rest of the day was pretty lazy - Nicky and I took a 3 hour nap!  Guess we were tired from our Saturday running errands and playing t-ball, and Nicky was up late from parent's night out at his school where he got to play in the water and hang out with his friends while Momma and Daddy went to a movie. 

We love you Daddy, and can't imagine our lives without you...you'd be our hero even if you weren't a fireman!!!  We hope all you Daddy's out there had a good day! :0)


What in the holy tantrum is going on here?!

Terrible two's my arse.  We're beginning to think it should be renamed the "terrible childhood".  The craziness that goes on in our house these days has us thinking back to 6 months ago when we thought things were never going to calm down.  Nicky's moods are like the ebbs and flows of the tides.  He comes crashing down hard on us with no warning one second, then receeds just as quickly with a calmness that washes over all of us.  And that's all in a matter of an hour or so.  Most of the time there is absolutely no indication as to why his behavior becomes so out of control.  Although we try to tell ourselves we'll never understand why he acts the way he does, we continually ask "why is he doing this?!".  I know that he's seeking independence at this age, and I gladly acquiesce in relinquishing some control with many things we do as if to make him feel like he does have a say around the house.  We give him many choices throughout each day, which seems to help.  But other days, he's just completely impossible to appease.  No matter what we do or say, we're wrong. 

We can be giving him all the love in the world and involving him with "helping" us with the household tasks.  We'll be singing and to Kris and I, we're having a grand ol' time.  However, to the preschooler, we're complete idiots and apparently don't know our heads from our arses because out of the blue he will turn on a dime and be sitting on the floor hitting at us, screaming things such as "you not my friend"; "i don't like you right now"; "you being mean"; etc, while pushing around rugs on the floor.  (Not sure why he does that one - he HATES when the rugs are out of place and is constantly fixing them, so to mess them up kinda baffles me.)

We've tried the time-outs to no avail.  We've tried the Love and Logic method - which we still use in combo with some other tactics.  (i.e. I'll tell him (after he's calmed down) "Oh man.  That's so sad.  Because you spent so much time not listening and not doing what I asked, now we don't have time to do *insert fun thing here*.)  Doesn't matter - he just looks at us with a smirk and goes about his business.  We've tried threatening to take things away/not getting to do things - he doesn't care, just keeps up with the bad attitude.  Our new method is to send him to his bedroom upstairs alone until he can calm down, then once he does we try to reason with him.  But, sheesh.  It's still turmoil until he's over the melt-down.  The saying "I'm at my wits end" comes to mind on a daily basis.  It's as if we're waiting for a little volcano to blow.

I will have to say this though.  It doesn't feel as bad as it did last year when we were going through this phase.  I was really, really upset then.  I took it all very personally and felt like a complete failure as a parent.  I mean - I'm the one that taught preschool; I'm the on that has read all the parenting books; I'm the one that has a degree in Psychology with emphasis in child development, yet this child was giving me a run for my money (and we did invest a lot in him!) and beating me into submission (figuratively speaking).  Now that the love is more unconditional, I'm able to take a step back and know that this too shall pass and that if I wait an hour, I'll have a totally different kid (of course if I wait two hours, I'll be right back where I started, but that time in between is well worth it!)

Good Times with New Friends

A few weeks ago we had our new friends Wendy, Andrew, Trevor and baby Blair bear over for dinner.  Nicky and Trevor played soccer together, and now t-ball, and have really hit it off.  Kris and I don't really have any other friends who have kids Nicky's age, so it's fun to get to hang out and have "adult time" while the boys get to play and shake some of their sillies out.  They're a lot like us in their parenting styles and we seem to have similar interests, so it's been fun getting to know them better.  Speaking of, here's Blitzer getting to know Blair a little better...

He was all about her!  I can't say I blame him.  Any time I'm I see her I immediately want her in my arms and can't resist kissing her chubby little cheeks!  Nicky is quite taken with her as well and calls her "girlfriend Blair"!

After dinner, the boys did what boys do best...rough-housed.  What is it that is so appealing about rolling around on top of each other in the dirt/grass while chasing after a ball?  Why is wrestling so cool to boys?  Good thing I was a girl, or I surely woudn't have fit in.

No evening would be complete without tooling the alley in Nicky's fire engine!  They rode up and down the alley while putting out imaginary fires. 

It was quite a warm evening, but something about sitting on the back patio eating fresh fruit in the summertime is just appealing.  The boys gobbled up 3 skewers of fruit-kabobs each!

After more fun playing in the playroom inside, the we all had to call it a night.  Both boys were sad and were begging for a sleep-over, so we all agreed that it's definitely in order sometime soon!

Dream a Little Dream

Since we've been married, we like to take a trip to the beach at least once a year.  We honeymooned in Aruba (our favorite place so far); spent time in St Lucia while we were awaiting our fertility fate (nothing like lounging in the sun sipping Pimm's to pass the time!); and our first "family" trip with Nicky was last year to the Florida Keys.  Since then, he's been all about the beach.  He constantly wants to know when we're going to go back.  Every airplane he sees in the sky is headed to the beach.  I quite like his thinking.  How nice it would be to live close enough to dip my toes in the sand and hunt for sea shells.  *sigh*

This year's trip is up in the air.  We originally planned a trip to Mexico over Labor Day, but our flights got all messed up and we had to cancel.  Then we thought about going to San Diego, but we weren't completely sold on the idea.  We were hoping to go to see Uncle Brent in St Thomas for Thanksgiving, but we've not heard whether or not that's gonna happen, even though Nana and Pop have agreed that it would be fun.  So we thought we'd take an "adults only" trip to South Padre Island for Labor Day, leaving Nicky with Nana and Pop, and he'd still get the beach trip for turkey day.  But, now I'm back to wanting to spend Thanksgiving land-locked with the rest of our family (cousins mostly and Nana and Pop) in Dallas, which leaves us still needing somewhere to go beach-wise for Labor Day with the little Russky!  Grr! 

What to do, what to do.  Who knew planning a beach trip could turn out to be so challenging?  So, now I'm left to dream and surf the interwebnets for places that we would love to visit some day, and am compiling a beach bucket(list)!  Here's a beautiful, serene east coast destination to start off the list...it's located in the village of Watch Hill, RI and I wish we were there right now! 

If it's true that the only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you, then someday we'll be waking up to that view.

In the meantime, I'll be searching for more dreamy vacation spots to spend a little holiday with my two favorite boys!


Bon Voyage Stefani!!!

A few weeks ago my cousin Stefani left on another big excursion for some ballyhoo in the City of Lights.  She is spending the summer as a bike tour guide and is having quite a grand time.  She had absolutely no background in the profession prior to this trip, but it was always something in the back of her mind that she wished she could do.  As with most things in her life, she made it happen.  The three of us met up with Stefani for lunch the day before she left, and in true fashion she hadn't even thought of packing!  You can read all about her zany tales on her blog Tales of a Tattered Suitcase.  As for me, I'm stuck behind a desk all summer, living vicariously through her, dreaming of taking a batteau cruise down the river Seine; watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night; and eating crepes non-stop while sipping true champagne.



Memorial Day in San Antonio

For Memorial Day weekend this year we decided to head south to San Antonio to visit Nana and Pop.  We left on Saturday morning to avoid the Friday crowds and it seemed to work in our favor, as we arrived in a decent amount of time.  Nicky watched movies the entire way down, so he was revved up by the time we got there.  After saying our hello's, it was time to change into our suits and take a dip in the nice, cool pool!  Nicky loooves to swim, so getting him in the water is easy - getting him out is another story altogether.

Sunday morning Nana and Pop were on Nicky duty while Momma and Daddy took a little trip to the outlet malls - a must for every trip we take down there.  This trip was made even better since we were actually able to take our time and not have to tend to a crazy man every 5 seconds.  From there, we had a nice leisurely lunch at a cute diner/greasy spoon...yu-um!  It was so nice to have some "adult" time - we definitely need to make more time for that. 

We got home and quickly jumped into the pool, then were joined by the rest of the Mills clan.  Pop grilled up some burgers and brats and Nana, GG, and Aunt Marsha made all my favorite side items.  Potato Salad, and vermicelli salad, and mixed veggie salad oh my! :0)
Monday morning we packed up a little cooler with plenty of fluids and headed to the zoo.  Nicky was soo excited - he had been asking about it and looking forward to it since we had mentioned it a few weeks prior.  That kid loves him some animals!  The zoo is nicely laid out and there are a fair amount of animals to stare at.  Nicky was quite the trooper...it was pretty hot, yet he managed to walk the entire thing without complaining or asking to be carried one single time!  We were quite impressed!  Here are a few fun pics of us...

Nicky and the "amingos" (not so good with the letter "l" yet, and for some reason, he drops the "f" on this word too...too cute!) - he has such a fascination with birds, much to his daddy's chagrin!

"fishing" in the children's zoo area

yummy hot dogs!

Nicky and Daddy brushing one of the goats in the petting zoo area.  Nicky will be quick to tell you that this goat "hit him in the head with his horn".  Guess that was his way of telling him that he thought his hair looked good just the way it was!

Silly Nicky trying on a mask in the gift shop.  Hard to believe that a year ago he would've never put it on, much less smile while doing so.  He's come so far!

After the zoo we went home for a short nap, then more pool time.  By the end of the weekend Nicky was going under the water to touch the bottom, swimming much better (thanks to some guidance from his favorite Pop!), and jumping off the diving board all by himself.  We ate a lot of yummy food (thanks Nana!!!) and had great company.  It was very nice and relaxing and we all got a good start on our tans.  Well...Nicky and I did at least!

Belated Birthday Thank You!

Ok...so this post is loooong overdue, but better late than never, right?!  While I was taking a few extra days to soak up the atmosphere in Prague, Nicky was getting a little surprise of his own.  A box arrived on our doorstep, and of course he immediately asked if it was his.  Could you imagine what people would think of us if we were all as egocentric as preschoolers?  Anyway, as with most things that arrive on our stoop, this box was indeed for him.  I mean, who sends us parents anything anymore?  It's all about the kid now, right?  (what was that I was saying about being egocentric?)  Nicky tore through the present to find some new summer clothes...

...a fun Diego Color Wonder book...(those things are so cool...no muss no fuss!)...

...and the biggest chalk EVER...

There was also a ginormous candy necklace which we are rationing out - he woulda had it for dinner that night if it were up to him!  Thank you, Aunt Caroline, Brenden and Emily for the fun gifts!  We love you and miss you!!!
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