Friday, November 28, 2008

The Mayor of Turkeytown

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this week! We're looking forward to a weekend of turkey sandwiches and unpacking Christmas decorations around here (ok guess which one of us is looking forward to which part of that sentence...).

This past week or so we've had some actual chilly days. We had to fire up the plug-in heater a couple of nights --- to give you an idea of how totally reasonable the weather is here ordinarily, we are equipped with neither central air nor central heat. And we rarely miss either!

We also had an unexpected emergency: our TV died. The cathode-ray tube era has finally ended for us. Apparently the life expectancy of a Sony Trinitron that Sergio "bought off some dude in West Campus" is about 5 years (not bad). We thought we could hold out for a while but literally within hours Sergio was walking the streets, window-shopping for a replacement, and within 24 hours the LCD flat-screen era had commenced.

That's flat, baby!

One fun part about a little chill in the air is dressing Ivan up like some kind of kooky elfin child.

"I live under a bridge and 'll eat your children..."

Or as a fancy Polanquito, courtesy of his fancy French footies.

And just in time for the holidays, Ivan's teeth have made their world debut. A little over a week ago, a little needle-sharp bump appeared on his bottom gum, and now we're looking at TWO of the little chompers.

Look real close:

He's like an upside-down Bucky Beaver.

Most of the time, though, Ivan tries to hide his new dental equipment.

We're only test-driving the high chair at this point. Ivan will try his first "real" food on December 7th, his half-year birthday. Gulp.

Its a shame he couldn't partake of the feast we enjoyed around here yesterday. The neighborhood potluck was extraordinary with 3 beautiful turkeys, a fleet of side dishes and an embarrassment of desserts. We had excellent company, a gorgeous evening and lots of leftovers.

Gorgeous presentation...

Turkey 1...

Turkey 2 (3 ended up being far too much).

Ivan works the crowd.

We love the crisp air of autumn, but turkey dinner outside at sunset next to a swimming pool is pretty nice too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Viva La Revolucion Day (off)!

We had a nice long three day weekend here in Mexico. As we've mentioned before, we have the great pleasure of celebrating both American and Mexican holidays and Sergio had Monday off for Mexican Independence Day.

We took advantage of the break to finally get around to a return visit to our favorite food market in the city, San Juan. We recruited our pals and neighbors Kate and Michael to accompany us which was great fun as they are extremely well-traveled, especially in the world of markets. Kate is a fantastic cook and also happens to be pregnant with her first child, due around Valentine's Day. Kate and Michael got a chance to see what is in store for them, family-wise, as we loaded up Ivan in the car seat and circled the city in our station wagon looking for parking. Baby = No more taxi rides!

We made it to San Juan early, and actually even stopped at the Ciudadela (artesania market) on the way there for what Sasha likes to call "the Christmas preview." But before we get to Christmas, there's still Thanksgiving and we saw a lot of turkeys at San Juan that looked like they might like to play a starring role at an old-fashioned American pilgrim fest:

We skipped the big birds for now, though, and concentrated on getting the fixings for a paella we planned to make that night. It turned out to be one-stop shopping as the market stocked everything from saffron to giant briny shrimp to chorizo. After the market, we were able to introduce Kate and Michael to a fabulous pastor stand that was even yummier than we remembered. The food festival continued as later that night, Sergio showed off his "I studied in Spain" cooking skills.

It really should be more yellow than that.

We were impressed!

Later that weekend, we cruised around Polanco's strangely empty streets (these folks take holidays really seriously) and found our favorite fast-food joint was doing its usual brisk business. We adore cochinita pibil, and this place is awesome. It is all they serve. We ducked in for a bite and then let Ivan spend some time with his favorite trees at the park.



We wrapped up the weekend with the discovery that Ivan does indeed have a little tooth poking through his bottom gum. A sharp little number, too. Ivan is taking it in stride, and seems to be more interested in practicing his bodybuilder poses...

He's a pocket Hercules!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Condesa Kielbasa

First things first, Sasha went to the dentist for Veteran's Day! With Ivan's teeth on the way (we hope! or else we have to come up with a new explanation for this fussy,drooling dude), Sasha decided it was about time she take some responsibility for her own dental health and set a good example.

"I'll punch the teeth!"

Also, it turns out that a super dentist is basically across the street from our house. And you can get same-day appointments. So Sasha had run out of the lame excuses she'd been using to avoid the dentist for the last few years. Yeah, years. Horrible huh? Happily, even with her brazen negligence the dental visit went well. Only one snag: the dentist did suggest she get a retainer. Welcome back 1988! Stay tuned for those awesome photos.

Besides Sasha's personal dentist drama, we've been trying to get outside to enjoy the glorious weather around here. That's trickier than we'd like because these dry sunny days are also filled with a whole mess of pollutants and we've all been suffering a bit from them. And now we roll in Ivan's new "aubergine" stroller set-up. Goodbye blue baby bassinet, hello all-terrain purple cruiser.

We did the usual Saturday morning market/bakery/park routine.


Boats! (and cops?)

And then we headed off to Roma and Condesa for a double-header of family favorites: flea market and sausages!

First we cruised up and down the avenue looking at junk in Roma -- mostly old books, amateur art and a strangely large amount of Beatles/Simpsons paraphernalia.

After that we walked on to Condesa and the sausage haus for a bite to eat. Sergio had spotted an ad in a diplomatic trade paper boasting of this place with dozens of sausage varieties so we were pretty excited to check it out. Consider it research for our upcoming stint in Poland!

Sergio loves signage where the food you eat smiles at you.

Overall, we thought the sausages were pretty good,and the beer selection above-average (meaning some choices beyond Victoria and Indio). We were disappointed, however, with the mustard. French's? How pedestrian. Mexico just isn't a mustard country. Of course when we're drowning in the stuff in Warsaw, I'm sure we'll be dreaming about table salsas.

This week Ivan went to his 5 month doctor visit which went swimmingly. He's not big, he's not small. He's healthy and doing all the stuff he's supposed to be doing. A quick, dull doctor's visit is just the kind we like! Dr. Hirsch summed it all up by telling us that Ivan "looks very nice."

We think so too, so we'll close out this entry with some more Ivan The Gordito snaps. He's getting to have a real sense of humor.

Delicious baby-face, grrr...

Sausage rules!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Days of Dead People and Presidents

So in the last week or so we've had our wedding anniversary, Halloween, Day of the Dead and Election Day. It has been a holiday extravaganza! On the other hand, Sergio was super-allergic to the world for about a week, Sasha got pink eye and Ivan has been teething. So our celebrating has been a little weaker than we might have liked. At any rate, here are some of the highlights.

For Halloween, we went to get family flu shots. Scary! Actually, Ivan got to skip this vaccination (he gets to wait until he's 6 months old) so it was a lot less terrifying than most of our trips to see the nurse. Overall, our Halloween celebrating was pretty low-key here; we stayed home and ate leftover Anniversary cupcakes. Ivan wore a seasonal t-shirt, but that was about it for dressing up.

Halloween. Boo.

Since we live in Mexico City, we decided to give Day of the Dead top-billing this year, and spent some time looking at skulls and sneezing around all the gorgeous flowers. Interestingly, a lot of the kids around here take the whole stretch from Halloween to November 2nd to wear costumes and "trick or treat" (i.e. beg for candy), mostly at busy intersections. Sadly, it's not much different than other forms of begging, except done while wearing devil horns.

Not what we meant.

'Cause this is thrill-er...

Seriously, that's the whole costume.

The skull-pope

We also stumbled on to a neighborhood festival in Coyoacan where we were visiting the Museum of Foreign Interventions, a sizable gallery of imperialism. etc. with halls chronicling Spanish, French and American exploits in this part of the world. As Americans, you feel compelled to say "my bad" after every exhibit. The museum itself is the site of one of the last battles of the Mexican-American War, and a huge plaque outside commemorates the spot of the last stand against the American invaders...

Right here. (My bad).

But hey, remember the Alamo.

Translation: "We should prove to the world that there are still men in Mexico."

The museum is also the site of a former convent, with beautiful painted walls and a sweet little garden.

Ivan is a huge fan of trees, plants, flowers and so forth. He personally examined every specimen in the garden.


The museum had their own ofrenda as well. And some bored looking teenagers. Mexican kids wear the skinny pants better than anyone. And the haircuts! Fab, fab, fab.
"No I will not mow the lawn..."

After getting schooled at the museum, we walked over to the neighborhood party to check out the doings.

Skulls, skulls, skulls...


After a shop and a stroll, we headed over to the main plaza in Coyoacan and looked at dozens of ofrendas.

In the Cathedral:

In the zocalo:

This one is made entirely of vegetables.

At the Museum of Popular Culture:

And this one entirely of seeds, grains, and fruit.

And typically, we ended the day with some neighborhood snacks. Ivan has become quite interested in what we eat and drink. In about a month, he'll get his chance to start using a spoon. We wonder if he will be as excited about rice cereal as he seems to be about guacamole?

Back at home, we got ready for the week ahead -- Election Week! And what an exciting week it turned out to be! We really missed being home in the USA on Tuesday. We got in the spirit of things with our red, white and blue clothing and a lot of CNN's Wolf Blitzer, but it just wasn't the same.

Vote! Or drool. Or both.

And yes, grandparents, that's Ivan sitting unassisted ---more or less. He props himself up in a gorilla pose, with his hands out in front of him. He's also quite competent at rolling from back to belly and belly to back now, but still seems to like being held in a lap most of all. Lots of these developmental milestones in the last few weeks, but what we're really anxious to see are some teeth. Because this kid is drooling like a rushing river and seems to have something (usually most of his fist) stuffed in his mouth pretty much 24/7. And in case there was any doubt that this kid is from the Moreno-Dennis lines, he's already expressing interest in the family beverage of choice.

That settles it. He's ours.