Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Counting down...

You can wait for the DVD.

We had a pretty quiet Memorial Day weekend here. We're on a self-imposed travel ban; we tell ourselves it is because we're going to have a baby any day now but frankly we're really just enjoying spending time at home and getting in a little bit of rest and relaxation after a few months of traveling and/or hosting travelers. We're into crazy stuff now like checking out blockbuster movies, puttering around the house and going to the dentist. Get wild.

So what all did we get up to in Polanco this Memorial Day weekend? Well, Sasha was in hog heaven washing all sort of teeny tiny things: blankets, bibs and booties, and Sergio got down with installing the car seat; Sasha even bit the bullet and packed the hospital bag (yikes!) and we finally programmed the doctor's phone number into our lousy cell phones. Yep, we're getting serious around here.

Peep the hot stroller.

Which is good cos during last week's doctor's visit we learned that while the little guy has been hanging around upside down like a little baby bat for a few weeks now, he's been making some bold moves in recent days. He's now "well-engaged" and he's definitely done the "drop." We kind of knew that already as Sasha had suddenly developed a pronounced waddle. Still, the doc reassured us that there's no indication that we should expect an early arrival and he believes we'll make it to June -- but that's less than a week away now, at any rate.

The only real hitch we've had in our getting-ready-for-baby planning is arranging for the kid's birth certificate. Have we mentioned that Little Mr. Moreno will be 125% Mexican? That's 100% for being born on Mexican soil and another 25% for all that Mexican heritage he's inheriting from Papa Sergio. So naturally, we've decided to get dual citizenship for our baby. No big deal nowadays in Mexico, but still a few hoops to jump through for both the Mexicans and the Americans. And one of the first steps is to get something called an apostille --- something we failed to realize took some advance planning. Thankfully Sergio's FANTASTIC former coworker Olga in Austin is coming through for us in a big way and trekking down to the Texas Secretary of State Office for us the week before our due date. We really owe her one!

As for the rest of the weekend, Sergio learned that his old McAllen roommate and pal Mariano is now in DF for the summer and doing an internship just up the road from us with Reuters. We were able to meet him for dinner on Saturday where we were enthralled by all kinds of great stories from his journalist days on the Border as well as new stories from his life in grad school at Columbia. And we learned that he's engaged! Hooray for getting married!

Finally, last week Sasha's email box was on fire with the news that Barack Obama was stepping in for the ailing Ted Kennedy as her alma mater's commencement speaker on Sunday.

Thanks to Leigh's tip-off, we were able to eat our Sunday pancakes and watch Obama's speech on a live webcast. The combination of Senator Hopeful himself with Sasha's fond memories of her own College Days made for a pretty sappy-sweet mood here in Mexico City. Not a bad way to feel on a Sunday morning!

Aww, college.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May Flowers

Well, it seems that summer has already passed and we're on to the rainy season. Or maybe spring has returned? But just in case summer comes back, we're in luck because we won the contest for our departing neighbor's old window unit by playing the baby card. Apparently people make all kinds of accommodations for you when you have a 9 months pregnant lady in the house. Technically, we've got about ten days left until the little dude makes his appearance. In reality, who knows? At our last appointment, the doctor was thinking more along the lines of "sometime in the first week of June." Sasha's mom arrives on May 31 so that sounds pretty good to us!

But we're not waiting around twiddling our thumbs just yet. Last Friday we had a festive dinner out with Sergio's mentor, a great guy who just happens to be an Oklahoma native and very committed OU fan. Despite this, he and Sergio get on great and we had a blast listening to his war stories (okay, not ACTUAL war stories. Though there was mention of a bombing or two...)

On Saturday, Sasha got up bright and early to check out a new market downtown. Pal and neighbor Kate led a crew of four other ladies on the metro to Jamaica, the wholesale flower market. It was gorgeous! And packed with cut flowers at cut-rate prices. There will definitely be a return trip to this market.

We all stocked up and made a a complete gringa spectacle of ourselves on the metro ride home. The reason for the flower-binge? Sasha's baby shower!


On Sunday, Sergio made himself scarce while Sasha whooped it up with around 20 other ladies and oohed and aahed over all matters baby.

This baby shower even had a couple of real live babies!

The hostesses put together an amazing menu featuring all of Sasha's favorite picnic-style foods and finished the afternoon off with caramel sundaes. In between there were some silly trivia games, a lot of baby advice and some super generous gifts for Lil Moreno. And the flowers were extraordinary! Take our word for it as Sasha did a pretty crummy job of photo-documenting the occasion---she was having too much fun.

More showers ahead with this crew: these other moms-to-be are getting ready for July, August and September babies! Shout-out to Ashley for Sasha's happy big lady top.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers' Days

So we're officially taking it easy here in Mexico City. It is hot out here, and we've been slowing down and treating ourselves to some lazy summer days.

This weekend we spent Saturday with our Southside primos: the Suarez family of Coyoacan.

It had been too long since we'd managed to hang out with our cousins and we were psyched to have a free weekend to let them show us around Tlalpan, a town just a bit further south than Coyoacan with a similar laid-back vibe. We all had lunch on the plaza in Tlalpan before breezing around the zocalo and spending some serious playtime at the park.

There was a lot of jump-roping, talk about American elections and baby advice. A wonderful way to spend Mother's Day! (Dia de las Madres is celebrated on Saturday in Mexico.)

Pedro Quinn revisited.

Sunday we celebrated American Mother's Day with some phone calls home and a little bit of puttering in the new nursery. Sergio got to show off his semi-secret basketball court to our newest neighbors -- imagine playing 21 with a dude from Burkina Faso in a working-class neighborhood in Mexico City. What a life. He then treated almost-mom Sasha to a delicious dinner and some cheerful flowers for the windowbox.

And finally, at last, we are happy to report that both of the ladies of the house seem to have made full recoveries from their respective tummy troubles earlier in the week: LouLou is happily chowing down again, and Sasha has nothing but good things to say about Dr. Felix and his expert medical care---her own tummy seems to be in tip-top form again, too.

Almost done...

Happy Mother's Day, everybody!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Holidays seem to come in waves in Mexico. There will be no days off for weeks, and then several in a row. Last week we had Thursday off for May Day (Labor Day for most non-US countries), and yesterday was of course Cinco de Mayo, as all of you in the US could tell by the number of times you saw a mustachioed cactus with a sombrero drinking a Corona.


With the cluster of holidays, many Mexicans take advantage of what's called puente (literally "bridge"), by taking off Friday and turning a 3-day weekend into almost a full week off. It's one of the many "why-didn't-we think-of-that" customs that you discover while abroad. Unfortunately we were caught unawares and found ourselves with no plans for all these late-spring days off. That's not so bad considering we both plan to take significant time once Li'l Moreno drops in early June, so we're saving up all the leave time we can anyway 'cause we gotta bond with the bambino!

Oh God no.

We did take the opportunity to take a daytrip on Saturday to Cuernavaca, just about a 2-hour drive from the city, horrible traffic permitting. Cuernavaca is not the prettiest town but one that is steeped in history. Emiliano Zapata was born there. Cortes built his palace there after conquering the Aztecs. It's now a museum of Mexican history, with one side featuring yet another Diego Rivera mural depicting the brutal story of that same conquest. That must have been fun for Rivera -- imagine a Native American artist being allowed to paint the story of the "settling" of the American west into the walls of the White House.

Cuernavaca was also the temporary residence of Emperor Maximilian and his court during the brief mid-19th century when the French had the hilarious idea that Mexico should be part of its empire. The gardens of the old residence are preserved as a museum. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a significant defeat of the French in the Battle of Puebla, so it seemed apropros to stroll around the dregs of that folly.

Smell the aroma of arrogance!

Finally, and perhaps most strangely, Cuernavaca was the headquarters of the Franciscans' missionary work to Asia and the Phillipines, so the Franciscan cathedral in town features frescoes with Japanese motifs depicting the not-so-warm welcome the brothers got in their work.

Catholic koi.

And for some reason, a skull and crossbones over the entrance.

With all the sights properly seen, we turned our attention to Mexico's finest attraction: drinking beer on a patio and eating good food. We actually had a 2-part lunch, starting with a snack at a little joint off one of the main plazas.

Guy on the left never broke that pose.

We followed that with a meal at Gaia, a restaurant built into the former home of another famous Cuernavaca resident, Mario Moreno -- better known to the world as Cantinflas.

He's often referred to as the "Mexican Charlie Chaplin" which is odd because Chaplin himself once called him the world's greatest comedian. He made over 50 films in a 50-year career and is as big of an icon in Latin America as can be imagined. His house was gorgeous, naturally, and featured this awesome pool in the main courtyard.

But really the weekend was more about relaxing in anticipation of our growing family. We've been doing some test runs for Sasha's daily trips to the local park, stopping at our favorite bakery along the way.

It seems like LouLou approves this new routine: