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...


Gotcha Day 2010

Early on, we decided that we would be very open with Nicky about the fact that we adopted him from Russia.  What better way to do so than to celebrate "Gotcha Day" - the day we literally "got" him?!  This year Daddy was home, and since it was so hot outside, we figured the best way to celebrate this year was to head to Gina's for a dip in the pool (aka Nicky's favorite place to be...if there's water...this kid's in it!). 

It's so hard to believe that it's been two years since we brought a scared little guy home from an orphanage in Russia.  So much has changed.  He's come so far!  He has started asking me questions again about whether or not my belly was big when he was in it.  Hmm...well...you see Nick, you didn't quite grow in my belly...

From that starting point I explained to him (again) how he had 2 "momma's" and 2 "daddy's" and that one Momma and Daddy lived in Russia.  That led to a "why?  why they not here?"  I get kinda squirmy telling him too much too early/young.  But, in the end I was forced to tell him that they couldn't take care of him and we came and got him and brought him back here to live with us.  In response to that I got "oh.  ok momma.  i have peanut butter jelly for unch?"  Sure buddy, you can have whatever you want for "unch" - it's your day!

One day I hope to have a fully mapped out story that we will tell him.  Of course, one day he'll understand, and that day will unfortunately bring about some sadness at the loss of his former life.  In the meantime, we'll enjoy the bliss of him only remembering being with us, where he belongs!


Back to School

I cannot believe it's already the end of August and school's starting up again!  Nicky will now be going to Beaty only 2 days a week (Monday & Wednesday)(communication class) instead of 3 since we felt that he was missing out on a lot of the pre-school type work at his private school.  His classes are only 1 1/2 hrs long, then 1 1/2 hr of another class where he plays and does art, etc.  He would leave the house at 7am and not arrive at his private school until 12pm!  Luckily we have a later bus pick-up time this year - 7:30am.  So much easier to manage getting him up at 10 'til 7 instead of 6:20am...he would barely be fully awake by the time the bus would arrive...heck...neither was I!

Kris and I met Nicky's new teacher, Mrs Gallaher, on Friday, and she seems really nice.  She works closely with the teacher that Nicky had last year (Mrs Jasper), so she's fully prepared for the crazy man! :0)  We've been telling Nicky that school would be starting again today for about 2 weeks now, and when I told him we had to get ready for the bus this morning he asked me "i go japper's class today?" - "Jasper" is a bit tough for him to say...we giggle at his every attempt.  For some reason we find "Japper" pretty funny!  I reminded him that he has a new teacher and that yes, he was going to Beaty school.  He then became very concerned with the logistics of it all:

Nicky: i ride da bus to japper class?
Momma:  Yes, you are riding the bus to Beaty school and you'll be in Mrs Gallaher's class.
Nicky:  i get to come home?
Momma:  Yes buddy, you'll come home after TLC school.
Nicky:  i ride da bus home?
Momma:  No, you'll ride the bus to TLC school and Momma will pick you up and bring you home.
Nicky:  but i get to come home?
Momma:  Yes, of course you'll get to come home!
Nicky:  see.  i tole you momma.
Momma:  (heavy sigh)  Ok Nicky.  You told me.

waiting for the bus

Anywho...he did really well with getting on the bus...no major melt-downs.  Kris came home right as the bus arrived, so he got to help send him off.  And it was a good thing too...Nicky's backpack was so loaded down with school supplies that as he climbed up the steps, he fell backwards a bit and Daddy's cat-like reflexes caught him and set him straight!

We unfortunately didn't get a good-bye wave from the little Russky as the bus pulled away.  Oh well... I think we only got 3 or so each all last year, so we're not taking it personally.  Guess it's not "cool" to wave to the parents!


First Movie with the Russky

This past Saturday we took Nicky to the movies to see Marmaduke.  Technically it's not his first movie at a theater (he saw Toy Story 3 with his private school earlier this summer), but it's his first one with Momma and Daddy, so it's still a first in our books!

The movie itself was pretty cute and had enough adult humor to keep Kris and I entertained.  Nicky seemed to enjoy it, although it was kind of dicey for a bit...about 30 minutes in, he started to rock back and forth in the booster seat (presumably out of boredom), and a little later he started talking...loudly!  But, overall, I'd say it was a success.  Shockingly, he didn't need a potty break, which is practically unheard of when we're out in the public! 

At the end of the movie, as we were watching the credits and letting the theater clear out a little before we attempted to leave (we went to the matinee at the dollar theater...apparently due to the heatwave everyone else had the same idea!), Nicky asked us "i have dat movie at my house?"  We told him that maybe Santa could bring it to him and he got all excited...guess we'll have to let "Santa" know what he can put in Nicky's stocking this year!


Gearing Up for Round Two

Two weeks ago I received round one of three epidural injections for my crazy pain in my neck/shoulder blade regions.  Although it seems to have helped, I wouldn't say that I'm quite cured just yet.  I'm really not a fan of needles, but I'll suck it up if it helps alleviate the pain.  I asked my pain doc if he thought it was really necessary for me to have the trifecta and his answer was "you're trying to avoid having surgery, right?"  Ok then...you'll see me at the surgery center next Tuesday! 

So, bring on the "cocktails" and cross your fingers that the second time's the charm!

*my "wining and dining" post-injection...they sure know how to win a gal over!*

2 Years ALREADY?!

Last Monday we had our two year post-placement home visit with our Social Worker, Jenna.  She was amazed at how far Nicky's come.  The first visit with her, he barely spoke (Russian or English) and was definitely not into giving hugs to strangers.  This visit, he greeted her at the door, gave her a hug and sat right next to her for most of the time she was at the house.  Of course, she did give him her iPhone to play games she has on it for her boys, but still!  He never would've done that before!  Of course, he flitted from one game to the next, just pushing the icons on the screen to which elicited a "wow - short attention span, huh?" from Jenna.  We went through the typical "how's he doing with this and that" questions and we all marveled at how well he seems to be doing in a lot of areas. 

We confessed our concerns with respect to his cognitive abilities and how it seems to take him a lot of explaining of things before he finally seems to "get it"; and even then, it's almost as if he's just telling us he understands so we'll move onto a new topic.  He still doesn't consistently recognize colors; doesn't know his numbers; doesn't recognize the letters in his name, much less, actually write his name correctly.  We know that a lot of kids his age may not be able to do these things either.  But, at what point should you stop and actually think "huh...something might be going on here".  Should we wait for him to fail before getting him some help?  This is one of the many questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis.  Having your son look at you with a blank face when you're trying to explain something to him, or trying to tell him a joke or merely carry on a conversation, is so hard and frustrating.  It's flat-out heartbreaking.

I told Jenna how slowly me and Nicky's bonding process was moving about, and based on all the other info we provided, she said she thought he might be suffering from attachment disorder.  We had done some research prior to our adopting him, however, we didn't really consider it as being a factor in our relationship because he does give us affection.  Now, after looking at the list of symptoms, Nicky does show many of the other signs.  It's hard to tell what's attachment disorder and what behaviors are that of being a "normal" child his age.  All I know is that despite all we've done thus far, something still feels "off".  We go through times where we feel that everything seems to be on track; then we turn around and think "what the heck is going on here?!". 

Jenna carefully broached the subject of Nicky possibly having to repeat Kindergarten.  We looked at each other, nodded our heads, and agreed that yes, we feel that it's a strong possibility.  And we're ok with that - there's nothing wrong with it.  Whatever we need to do for him, we'll do.  We don't doubt how far he's come; but we're not naive in thinking we don't still have a long road ahead of us either.  The hardest things we've heard up to this point is "he's just 2" or "he's just 3" or "he'll get it; give him time".  Well, how much time?  It's been two years and we still have a three year old!  The more opposition we receive from everyone around us, the harder it is for us to receive the help and support we crave.  Nicky's (unfortunately) not doing so poorly that he's able to get extra help at public school; he's merely getting by.  If he hadn't been a candidate (due to the fact that he was Russian) for the communication class when we first enrolled him, he wouldn't be a candidate now - he's at the top of his class of his 8 peers.  But, he's at the bottom of the class in his private preschool.  I don't know about you, but I don't think that's giving him the best that we can offer. 

So, back to the drawing board. 

Kris and I are going to meet with a new therapist (the last one we saw wanted to dismiss the fact that Nicky had issues, and instead, wanted to talk about Kris and I's childhoods...um...how's that gonna help?!)  We aren't too proud to admit that we don't know what we're doing.  Anyone can have a kid...but being a parent takes more than that. 

Guess Who's Back?

Nana and Pop brought our sweet baby back to us two weekends ago.  We figured we would have some trouble getting him back into his routine, so the little bit of sassiness he's picked up and decided to throw at us has been expected.  We thought we had done a pretty good job of preparing ourselves...that is until the first morning back to school rolled around.  We knew we were in for a long morning when the first thing out of his mouth when Kris woke him up was "i no wanna go to school!  i stay in bed!  i sleepy!"

After trying to convince him to get dressed countless times, I went with the - "Ok.  You're right.  It's your choice.  You can either go to school nekked or with your clothes on.  You decide." - method.  As you can see from the picture above, he decided that the new fad which all 4 year olds should adorn is the highly fashionable bathmat!

Needless to say, he managed to snap out of it, put his clothes on, eat breakfast and go to school with Daddy and perform a seamless drop-off.  I swear.  Sometimes I really feel like I'm living life on a roller coaster.  This kid changes his moods more quickly than a woman with PMS! 

ps...despite all that...I'm soo glad he's back home...the house was a little too un-eventful without his silly self around!

The San Antonio Russky

After spending over a week with his Granny and Poppa, Nicky got to spend a week with his Nana, Pop, Uncle Brent, cousins Brended and Emily, as well as GG, Aunt Marsha, Uncle Edward, and 2nd cousins Marshal and Kelsey.  His first day in San Antonio, he went to Sea World...
Brenden and Nicky ready to ride the roller coaster...
Brenden and Nicky after the roller coaster...
Playing in the "water park" at Sea World...

Day two was spent out at Aunt Marsha and Uncle Edward's farm...

Nicky, Brenden, Emily and Pop...
Nicky and Pop...with Nicky's favorite thing EVER in the background - "digger!"
Shooting with Uncle Brent...this has had quite the impression on him...he now wants to be a "peaceman" (we're still having trouble saying the letter "l" - although I think this pronunciation is quite fitting!) when he grows up!
Catching a ride with Marshal...
Picking vegetables with Uncle Edward...

Day three was mostly spent being lazy by Nana and Pop's pool while Uncle Brent got everything packed up for he and the kid's trip home the next day.  The afternoon, however, brought about a trip to the school where Aunt Pam used to teach.  The Ag class takes care of animals and they let the kids pet them...

Friday, Nana, Pop, Nicky, "aunt" Brie and "uncle" Max (what?  dogs are people too!!!) all piled into Nana's CRV and headed north to the Big D.  Put a dog next to this kid and he's one happy camper...except our Bailey - "she bite you" as Nicky would say.  She's a little testy...to say the least!

Nicky hasn't stopped talking about his cousins since he's been home.  Everything he talks about doing includes Brenden and Emily.  We're so thankful he was able to spend time with his extended family this summer, and hopefully we can make this an annual event.  Most of my memories from being a kid involve the summers I spent with my cousins Stefani and TJ, and although we had our little spats (I remember my Aunt Sharon making us stand in the corner several times!), it was definitely time well spent.

The Great Russky Hand-Off

Kris flew to El Paso to gather the little Russky from Granny and Poppa, while I spent time in San Antonio with my family.  We had a group birthday celebration for Uncle Brent, Pop, Uncle David, and cousin Emily on Saturday evening.  Uncle Brent surprised Pop with this bad boy...and it's been a big hit...

What is it about tractors and such that thrill boys so much?!

We spent most of the weekend being lazy around the pool and playing with Emily's new Barbies - Brenden included.  When we were kids, Brent and I walked across Ramstein AFB to the "toyland" for him to purchase a "Ken" doll, only for Pop to send us right back to the store to return it because "no son of mine will play with dolls!"  Funny how things have changed - in fact, Pop didn't even bat an eye as he watched me, Em, and lil' B opening the Barbies and getting them all set up!

Sunday afternoon, I picked Kris and Nicky up at the airport.  Nicky was so excited to see me that as I got out of the car, he ran up to greet me and fell off the curb! :(  Guess the excitement won out, because that didn't stop him from picking himself up at warp speed and jumping into my arms! 

We only spent a few hours with him at Nana and Pop's before we had to get in the car to head home.  Nicky was so thrilled to be with his cousins that he would barely even tell us good-bye!  Oh well, at least he didn't have a meltdown due to our leaving him, although he did call me this morning to tell me that "brie hit me in da face and i scared an sad an i miss you momma"...I miss you too buddy!  I'm sure with all the fun they're having, his little bout of sadness is short-lived. 

As for Kris and I, it's super-quiet around the house.  We've enjoyed spending some time to ourselves (and with each other of course).  I've gotten to pee all by myself...I had almost forgotten what that was like!!!  We've been able to enjoy a few dinners out without having to supervise a crazy man (ironically though, we dined at a restaurant on "kids eat free night"...so there was still a bit of chaos!).  We even went to see two movies...man we live on the edge! :)  Nicky comes home on Friday, so we better make the most of it while we can...the little devil will have us back on our toes in no time!

The Russky Takes El Paso

Despite a few "i miss you's"  and "i come home morrow's", Nicky had a super-fun time in El Paso with Granny and Poppa!  While Momma and Daddy had to stay in Dallas and work, the little dude got to go to work with Poppa...

visit a diary farm...

take in the sights of EP via the mountains...

have dinner at a cool restaurant situated on a ranch...

and Visit the El Paso Zoo...

He also did plenty of swimming and running around Granny and Poppa's backyard playing ball.

He was full of stories about all the exciting things he got to do and can't wait to go back "someday" (as he says).  Thank you Granny and Poppa for helping to make this summer so great for the little Russky!


From the Motherland

Check out this little Russky...

Luntik, from Vladivostok, Russia, proves that just because you're different, doesn't mean you can't be a cutie! 
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