Monday, July 28, 2008

Christmas in July!

First, some baby eye-candy (or a taco de ojo as they say here in DF):

Eat up, grandmas!

This July our neighbors have been especially festive and this past weekend saw no fewer than three block parties.

Wait, which one is the real Santa?

First, Friday kicked off with a Christmas in July party where Sergio was the featured star as he played Vacation Santa Claus.

We brought along Santa's Little Helper.

We think it was the beard that landed him the gig. Sasha was thrilled to introduce Ivan to her favorite holiday six months early. Practice makes perfect.

The babies in the corner...

The festivities continued on Saturday with a cook-out. As summer is transfer season around these parts, we've had lots of newcomers as well as folks moving on so it was time for one of the famous "hail and farewell" barbecues by the pool. The grill delivered some truly excellent goodies including Sergio's version of Gonzalo's secret recipe fajitas. Ivan was getting a little partied out by this point but kindly held in there until his mom had finished her dinner. Of course he did howl if she tried to eat sitting down or standing still...

Ivan is the boss, and the boss eats on the run. Or else.

Finally, Sasha cohosted a baby shower on Sunday for Raquel, our favorite pregnant Argentinian. The lead hosts of the event, a Spaniard and a South American, ensured a grand time albeit one that got started late and went on long into the afternoon. It was the longest Sasha had been away from the baby, but all went well. Papa Sergio did a fine job babysitting for a few hours.

Or did LouLou babysit?

The boys took a stroll down the avenue to check out laptops at the Mac store. Anyone have any advice for us on buying a new computer?

Finally, the baby boom continues and we want to send a hearty felicidades to our friends Andrea and Djenno in Washington who had their first child, a gorgeous little girl with a gorgeous name: Azra Bacvic. She joins little Nathaniel Shugarman as part of Ivan's crew in DC! He's totally hanging out with this gang when we're back in town in 09!

July 21, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Ruadh gu brath!"*

Yep, he's still a redhead. Unprecedented on both sides of the family though Sasha has heard a rumor that Grandma Annie Beard was a strawberry blond as a girl...

July is a nice month in Mexico City. For one thing, it just isn't very hot. In fact, it is easy to forget it is even summer here. If anything, it has been getting a little cooler and raining more often.

But it has been hot other places. Like in Italy where the Solis family was recently vacationing. Our niece Valeria managed to keep her cool when she saw her all-time fave actor walking down the street:

Never underestimate the power of the eyebrow.

No celebrities here in Mexico though, as an aside, Jessica Alba's baby was born on the same day as Ivan. Much cooler, we think, is that Ivan also shares his birthday with the future drumming phenom and all-around coolest lady in Boston, Amy Todeschini.

To sum things up around here, Sergio's been working overtime filling in for bosses that have jumped ship for Jamaica, Vietnam, and the like. And so far being the "acting deputy-jefe" seems to agree with him.

Meanwhile, Sasha is having a blast back at the home office where she has found the magic of the Baby Bjorn baby carrier.


And when she is back at the apartment, she gets to hang out with little Ivan and watch him perfect his baby moves. Future coolest guy in school?

He winks!

He shoots guns!

He dances upside down!

And when he got the news that his best-buddy JAMES ALAN MACPHEE was born in New Orleans last week, he smiled.


*"Red heads forever!" (in Gaelic)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wanna own a piece of art? Twice?

Those of you who know Sergio probably know the other Sergio too -- his cousin, a phenomenally-talented visual artist who lives in NYC. Sergio is an accomplished painter, whose sometimes disturbing yet always fascinating work can be seen on his website:

Sergio (the one above) has been working the last couple of years on a film called El Coyote, a traditional Western set against the violent drug trade in modern Mexico. He plays a small part in the production: he's the co-producer, co-director, co-writer, and the star.

The film is almost complete but, as with any independent production, funding is a constant challenge. Therefore, he has made an interesting proposal: purchase one of his art pieces (, and you will automatically become an investor in the film.

If you're interested, all the details are posted here.

If it's not something you can do right now, but you know someone who can, then spread the word.

Beisbol has been very very good to me.

Family resemblance?

This week saw Sergio attending his first Mexican baseball game, Kathe's return to Phoenix, the beginning of daydreams about our next family move and Ivan test-driving his various baby gadgets. Action-packed!

First, Sergio went to see the Diablos, the Mexico City baseball team. He tagged along with our neighbor and fellow Houston sports fan, Alan.

We owe a lot to Alan and his NBA cable channel as it kept Sergio from spending a less than respectable amount of time hanging out at the OTB place at the mall to get his playoffs fix. Alan and his wife Shelly also gave Ivan Sergio's favorite baby gift so far: an authentic T-Mac onesie with matching baby shoes. Obviously, Ivan has some growing to do before he can fill T-Mac's shoes!

Feel the sleepy eyes.

Have we mentioned that Ivan is going to be a small forward for the Houston Rockets? And according to Uncle Sam, a striker for Liverpool's soccer team? And Grandma Kathe predicts an important artist. Talk about dreams deferred...

By the way, we need to say a HUGE thank you to Sasha's mom for all of her help these last weeks.

Kathe was great company and a tireless helping hand in these earliest days of parenthood. She also did an incredible job of helping us beautify our house so stay tuned for photos of our "new" digs. We all miss Grandma already and Phoenix seems way too far away! Good thing Ivan got his passport last week.

Speaking of traveling, we have some adventures coming up around here. First, we confirmed that we are indeed going to do a job-exchange with one of Sergio's pals in Guadalajara. In August, we will trade houses for two weeks and get a chance to live in another Mexican city for a spell. Guadalajara is famous for being the origins of such Mexican icons as mariachi, tequila and the sombrero. Ole!

And even more exciting (perhaps?), Sergio received his list of job openings for 2009. Sasha has already started building wish lists and spreadsheets as she tries to rank order the more than 500 options around the world. Should the Moreno family learn Swahili? Bulgarian? Thai? Cast your votes soon. It seems like almost every country is up for grabs though that will change as some folks ahead of us in line secure their jobs this month. Goodbye Paris, Tokyo and Copenhagen! In the meantime, we're having some heart-to-hearts as we discuss our own preferences...

How's the stroller access in Burundi?

You only care about napping...

In between all this daydreaming about distant lands, Sasha has been introducing Ivan to his domestic entertainment options. First, there's going to the gym:

Oh it's the deep burn. So deep...

Ivan is really into kicking. We're trying to get him into this very important thing called "tummy time." Since babies don't sleep on their bellies anymore cos of the SIDS scare, they need to spend time strengthening their core so they can learn how to crawl. Ivan likes tummy time in the morning when he will happily lift his head and pretend to be a turtle. In the evening, it's no way Jose. He's just into kicking the heck out of that dangle-y music box. Well, the tune IS a little annoying.

We just installed some shelves to hold Ivan's growing library for those times when he is feeling a little more contemplative:


He's also got a lively (and apparently eyesight-enhancing) mobile to look at in his big boy crib:

And then there's this set of keys that is almost as exciting as getting a diaper changed. Actually, Ivan's favorite diversion in this part of the house is showering his mother just as she takes his diaper off. Hilarious!

That's private, mommy.

There's also a really sweet little chair that we've introduced now that Ivan is (barely) big enough to start rocking.

Don't stop rockin'

And finally, just last night we tested out the Baby Bjorn with a bit of a dance around the family room. Ivan seemed less than impressed with his pop's moves. In fact, he screamed a lot. Oh well, he'll learn to love his dancing daddy just like his mom does!

I got ass in my pants, ungh!

The coolest development in the last couple of weeks has been what we are almost certain are Ivan's first smiles. They're fleeting and hard to catch on the camera, but Sasha swears this was the tail-end of a smiley exchange:

Might be gas, but that makes him happy too.

Before signing off, we want to send our love to a couple of our friends who are expecting babies any day now. Maura and Cameron in New Orleans are hoping for a Bastille Day birthday (there's stll time!), and Andrea and Djenno in DC are counting down the days for their new arrival too. We can't wait to meet Ivan's future summer camp pals!

And best wishes to the newly married Adam and Ashley (we no doubt missed a heckuva party in New Jersey) and the about to be married Michael and Leyla who are having their own blow out in California right around the corner. Congrats guys!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Home Away From Home: Pastes/Pasties

Church, next to the Union HQ. One-stop shopping.

Ages ago our coworker Edgar told Sasha about a little mining town about two hours north of Mexico City that was very "tranquila," surrounded by forest and featured a little-known delicacy called the "paste." Sasha lit up when she discovered that the Mexican paste was in fact a "pastie" -- the Cornish meat pie favored by miners the world over, and a specialty of the ol' Upper Peninsula. She squirreled away the directions and determined that this would be a definite "do" when her mom Kathe visited. A little bit of the family homeland here in the middle of Mexico.

So on the 4th of July, we bundled up Ivan for what we hope is his first of many, many family car trips. Mineral del Monte is an old silver mining town just past Pachuca (north of D.F) and the site of the New World's first labor strike: in 1776 according to our guidebook -- very apropos for Independence Day, right? Solidarity Forever! Also, according to legend, this is the spot where soccer was introduced to Mexico with the first game played right here in this little town.

Thar's silver in them there hills...

Ivan was happy as a clam in his carseat for the two hours it took us to climb up to the mining district aka Little Cornwall (again, thanks to the Moreno Grandfolks for his safe, comfy ride---he loves it.).

Adorable traveling hoodie care of DeeDee and Jake.

First order of business on arrival: eating lunch! We found the paste shop Edgar recommended straight off (this was not a big place) and got in line.

As old as, well, Sergio.

We ordered all types and found them to be quite tasty -- actually, tastier than the yooper version Sasha's grandma made (Kathe confirms) but not entirely traditional either. A little more empanada than cornish meat pie. And we're pretty sure nobody in Michigan's Iron Range ever made pasties with green mole...but what a brilliant idea!

As usual, Ivan eats first.

We scooted around the town square and headed back home for a neighborhood hamburger party that night.

All-terrain stroller tested very well at 8,800 feet up.

Local parking lot attendant.

Saturday got off to a good start with our one-month pediatrician check-up where we got some advice on Ivan's budding colic (sigh!) and got the good news that Ivan is two pounds heavier and a half inch longer since our last visit. Sasha beamed when the doctor pronounced to her that "the milk is good!"

Sasha and Ivan took it easy back at home while Sergio played tour guide for Kathe that afternoon, introducing her to the Centro where she got to see the zocalo, murals galore, some artesania shopping, and the golden post office -- not to mention a stop at one of our favorite downtown tacos pastor joints.

Hey Kathe, look at the camera...


This scene happens at our house more often than you'd think.

Ivan welcomed them home that night with a rousing bout of colic-inspired fussiness. Not even crowning him King Pantshead made the little guy feel better...


But we have other tricks up our sleeves, and a warm bath with his hood hound friends watching seems to help.

Most of the time, after all, he's a pretty happy guy!