Monday, September 29, 2008

No average Joe

This past week has been an eventful one, filled with all kinds of American disasters and we're not talking about failed banks. Here in Mexico, Sergio's new job requires him to come to the aid of Americans in varying degrees of peril. Sometimes this means hopping on prop planes to visit backwoods jails and hospitals, but on occasion he lands a more luxurious gig. So after traveling to the jungles of Veracruz last week to visit with a Bonnie-and-Clyde style duo (note: do NOT bring guns to Mexico), he has been rewarded today with a chauffeured trip to two of Mexico's prettiest towns: Queretero and San Miguel de Allende.

His mission: to host a voter registration drive for ex-pats. Finding Americans in San Miguel is about as hard as finding them in Tucson -- and they all shop at the same clothing stores. San Miguel is the favored second-home/retirement spot for the American (and Canadian) bourgeoisie in Mexico. By reputation, the town itself is a little bit precious but undeniably beautiful. We haven't yet taken a family vacation there, but it could happen. We're actually quite fond of middle-aged Americans in linen ensembles and comfortable shoes.

Beware the gray-tails.

Back at home in Polanco, Sasha has become very comfortable herself in her now- official role as ama de casa. Which of course means she is watching a lot of telenovelas, bossing around her staff, plowing through crowds in her giant SUV, and that kind of thing.

A holy terror, clearly.

For real though, one thing we're doing is spending a lot of time watching Ivan crack up. He is becoming a very proficient giggler. And it is crazy-cute. His laugh is not the delighted squeal we anticipated, but more along the lines of a Beavis and Butthead snicker. Heh-heh-heh. We love it, and Sergio is getting to be awfully good at provoking it.

Looks like Mother Theresa. Sounds like Butthead.

Ivan has also started to grab stuff indiscriminately (see photo below) and has managed to figure out how to motor himself around powered only by his ability to roll over on his side while whip-kicking his legs. It is a very impressive display, rather dolphin-like actually, though unfortunately he doesn't really get anywhere. Just spins in circles like a beetle on his back.

Grabs food, plate, napkin, knife.

We spent Saturday afternoon on a wild goose chase for some Mexico souvenirs that kept us in traffic for a good two hours. We didn't find the souvenirs, but we did spend about thirty minutes behind the cutest antique Mini Cooper (with California plates) driven by a dude with a Woody Woodpecker haircut and big sunglasses.

Speaking of awesome haircuts, we watched the Joe Strummer documentary, The Future is Unwritten, this weekend where we learned that Mr. Strummer grew up in the diplomatic corps as the son of an English Foreign Office man (including a post in Mexico City! ). Naturally, we are now very excited about the possibility of Ivan becoming a socially-conscious-citizen-of-the-world-punk-rock-super star. On Sunday we attended Mass again at the official American Catholic parish where we were one of two couples, total, in attendance. Ivan did his best to make up for the lackluster turn out with some very boisterous singing. Or crying, whatever you want to call it.

We also watched the presidential candidate debates on Friday -- please vote! Having just spoken to tons of Americans living abroad who are jumping through all kinds of hoops to exercise their franchise, it makes us appreciate all the more the ability to vote 3 weeks early at your local grocery store (yay Texas!)

We leave this Friday for a ten-day vacation to Sergio's hometown featuring many fiestas including our niece's birthday, a cousin's wedding, and Ivan's baptism. Milestones galore!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pajama Jammy Jam!

Ain't no party like a baby-jammy party....

Peep them neck muscles!

The Worm

Billy Idol, anyone?

We celebrated September 16th--Mexico's 4th of July -- last week with a day off. No trips to see the grito this year. Instead we had a cook-out here at the pool with Mexican burgers (they had jalapeno peppers in them. Mexican macaroni has chipotles in it. Duh.)

We have also finished up watching The Wire and that was bittersweet. Did you know that not one of the actors on that show has ever won an Emmy (or even received a nomination)? And that Jeremy Piven has won one three years in a row for Entourage? Huh?

Believe it, bitch.

Some other newsy bits around here include us Morenos biting the bullet and deciding that Mama will not be returning to work anytime soon. Our nanny interviewing never really got off the ground as all of our candidates were teenagers with spotty references and not a lick of English. The timing just wasn't right and besides once we found out that Sasha's prospects in Poland are as close to a lock as we can get in this business, and that she's on track to return to Washington for training in May, we decided it was a sign that Ivan should get undivided parental attention for a little longer! ( And that Sasha should get undivided baby attention.) In the meantime Sasha is relishing her time with Ivan and mastering the art of crock pot cookery. Two words: short ribs.

We spent this past weekend doing our usual mix of errands.

Remember the hunt for Acapulco chairs?
Guess Acapulco was the wrong place to look for them...

Ivan has become a very enthusiastic market shopper and we take him along every Saturday morning to the produce market and bakery in our neighborhood.

Enthusiastically sleeping.

One exciting development is that we got the go-ahead from Sasha's baby mentor (Mrs. Shugarman!) to turn Ivan around in the carrier so now he faces out and greets the world. He seemed a little freaked out at first, but he's gotten the hang of it.

Sasha's lame attempt at impersonating Ivan's freaked out face.

Last bit of Ivan news is that he has gotten some help on his sitting technique which is super as Ivan has been desperately interested in sitting despite not being very good at it. Our neighbor's daughter is far too grown up (she's one) to share this interest and passed along this:

Wrong color.

Looks like a dentist's learning tool.

Upcoming: we take our first airplane ride with the young man in a couple of weeks. Our ports o'call will include Houston and Corpus Christi which suddenly sound like a shopping and eating paradise. Sasha is also betting they do blond better there and eagerly taking any referrals to hair salons. She is dreaming of highlights!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Category 5 of Consumer Advice

"See honey, I told you buying the Hummer was worth it. Look how easily we cut through these floods! And the banana yellow color only adds to the safety. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to refill the tank so we can get to the end of this block. Give me all the cash you have in your purse, plus your wedding ring,..."

As you no doubt saw over and over on the news, Hurricane Ike did a number on the Texas Gulf Coast this weekend. Sergio's people were among those "hunkered down" for the weekend and as it turns out they all weathered the storm fine: Houston has had some power outages and flooding while Corpus Christi ended up pretty much out of the danger zone. The worst reports we've heard include Sergio's sister Narda's family in Katy waking up to find their house battered and his cousin Monica's house in the Heights was slapped around as well. The worst of it, of course, is closer to the coast. We're sure lots of folks we haven't had a chance to connect with are busy with mop buckets this week--good luck Texans. We wish we could send a full tank of gas your way!

We don't drive much anyway.

It is strictly strollers around here. And speaking of, we're proud to report that Ivan has started using his big boy set of wheels --- the snappy umbrella stroller his grandparents sent him. He seems to be quite excited about the new view!

Yuppie Infant Vehicle, Vol.2

Fall is here in Mexico, and has been for a while. It was almost chilly enough today to warrant wearing a cap this morning --- we decided to go for it and Ivan wore his dino-hat in honor of our friends Margie and John. We're thinking of them lately as they are getting ready to welcome their first baby, Gilbert, early next month.

Yes, everyone we know is having a baby.

On that note, Sasha's had a few requests for her veteran-mom (three months makes her an expert, right?) recommendations on the most useful baby gear. Our space is pretty tight so we have definitely worked on honing this list. Here's Ivan's top ten beyond the crib and car seat:

  • Swaddling blankets -- Miracle Blanket and Kiddopotamus are the best straight-jacket type swaddlers and Swaddledesigns is the best traditional blanket we've found---it is also our favorite receiving blanket. Which you really can't have enough of...
  • Bouncy chair -- Baby Bjorn is my pick but that's because I got really hung up on the aesthetics of these. I suspect Ivan would like all of them!
  • Baby carrier -- Baby Bjorn, again, but we hear lots of love for the Ergo as well
  • Nursing pillow -- We've got a Boppy, but if you can handle buying something called My Brest Friend (seriously) those are supposed to be really nice too.
  • Pack N Play -- Everyone has one of these. You will too, future parent. Graco has a lock on the market. It is a portable crib/bassinet/playpen type thing.
  • Endless cloth diapers for cleaning up
  • Onesies and Footed pajamas -- remember, socks are for suckers!
  • Traveling changing pad -- ours folds up like a wallet and is handy for outings; those ladies' rooms stations can be pretty rank
  • A stroller -- I suppose you could wait on this purchase and use the baby carrier exclusively for the first few months, but those carriers can really cook in warm weather. And I really do think Ivan has appreciated being able to see more than my t-shirt on his walks. At any rate, we had the most fun stroller shopping and ended up choosing a big outdoorsy one with air tires and a bassinet option as well as a lighter umbrella one for shopping, traveling etc. We test-drove a ton of strollers and ended up with the Mountain Buggy and a Maclaren. We really got into this, but maybe that's because we've never bought a new car?
  • A rocking chair -- the one bit of baby furniture that we didn't necessarily need, but that I'm so happy to have. I love using it for feeding and reading.
Not safe.

I have to give a big thank you to my very level-headed friends Ellen and Megan for talking me out of going nesting-crazy and taking that Baby Bargains book as gospel. I hope to pass along their good advice that sometimes more is not more, but rather just a bunch of plastic stuff that you will trip on in the night.

Of course, once you do enough research (i.e. read enough magazines/blogs) on this topic you'll find that there's already a blueprint for the well-dressed nursery out there. Here's where I start pouring the Haterade (though honestly I am totally ordering a Flensted mobile any minute now and what's not to like about Eames?? ).

But really you should know that every published picture of a baby nursery nowadays seems to include:

-A sheepskin rug

-An Eames rocker

Ivan rocks the nightgown. Bethanne, Greg and The Gap: thanks!

-Tree decals on the walls and likely some artwork (from Etsy, natch!) featuring woodland fauna like birds, deer, etc.

-Some IKEA shelves (expedit! expedit!)

-Danish mobile

-Those Ugly Dolls stuffed animals

And finally,from what I can tell, a baby's room can never have enough blue, brown and orange. Never ever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gettin' out of limbo

Well since we dropped our big news, Sasha's ordered books about Poland, started freaking out about getting a job in Warsaw nearly two years in advance and come back to earth and determined that all will work out fine as it is surely a good sign that the priest who might baptize Ivan next month is from Poland. Hooray for superstition!

So that little roller coaster ride is over and it is on to the next: finding childcare for Ivan and figuring out our plans for the many upcoming weddings and holidays. And how to deal with the fact that the last episode of THE WIRE is in the mail to us. And after we watch it, it will all be over. Gulp.

We already know about Omar (*sniffle*).

So this entry is going to be baby-photo intensive as an effort to guilt Uncle Sam into coming to visit his first and only nephew. A nephew who is obviously very athletic and quite open to learning some footwork for his future job as Liverpool's striker. So get down here, bro.
Stop! Tummy time!

The highlights from the last couple weeks include attending our neighbor baby's first birthday,
going to baptismal classes at the one and only English-language parish,

No pants party!

Sergio starting his new rotation at his job,

Professional Morenos.
cruising neighborhood daycares,

Ivan was not a fan of this place, apparently.

starting to research the "muchacha" option for childcare,

What's wrong with this muchaca?

and taking Ivan to his 3 month check-up. He's all good.

Likes to stick out his tongue.

And chew on his hands.

Doc said his head is perfectly average size.

And he sure seems perfectly happy!

Well that's it for now. September should be a relatively quiet month, gearing up for big TX trips in October. So look forward to more Ivan since ya know, we don't get around like we used to.