15 01 2010

Maybe because of the end of the New Year, maybe because I’m feeling sentimental, but I thought I’d write a bit about Hugo’s buddies. Hugo has a great group of pals, some from daycare, some who are the children of friends of ours, and some who are, well, stuffed.

In Mid-December we attended his school’s annual Christmas party. I missed this last year, as it coincided with my dad’s birthday, and had to make do with descriptions from Juan. So glad I was able to go this year! I loved seeing Hugo’s little world.

Below he uses his friend E’s new “makeup”:

Taking a seat next to another friend A:

Lately, when I ask him who he played with today at school, he says, with a somewhat exasperated tone, “My friends!”

Hugo also has two good buddies outside of school. Mina, daughter of our friends Ali and Alexandra, is 5 months younger, but worldly beyond her years. One thing Hugo really likes to do with Mina is jump in the crib, and whenever she comes over, thta is on the agenda. Here they are at the Oakland Zoo:

And, uh, not being quiet (sorry monkeys!):

Last, but not least, our neighbor and friend, Polly. Polly is a 7 months older than Hugo, but they have been hanging out together since Hugo was born. Those two get up to some serious antics. Tonight, following Korean food in the Avenues, they ate their cookies tailgate style, holed up in the trunk of the car. Here they do some serious puzzling:


Decision 2008

22 10 2008

Forget those jokers running for president, we are faced with a much more important (and cuter) choice around here — how to dress the boy for Halloween. In one corner, the playful and wise monkey. Jungle denizen, banana eater, and everybody’s friend:

In the other corner, the majestic zebra. Striped sage of the Serengeti, muncher of tall grasses and avoider of lions. Not so much personality as a monkey perhaps, but those vertical stripes are slimming don’t you think?
Crouching Zebra
The votes are already rolling in (via Flickr and Sacha’s Facebook page) but please cast your vote here. Regardless of the outcome, it’s sure to be a result that we all can live with:

A Boy and His Chair

6 08 2008

I first saw a photo of Gerrit Rietveld’s roodblauwe stoel (“red-blue chair”) in a book years ago. It was so different and visually arresting (not to mention seemingly simple in its construction) that I decided I could make one for myself.  I carefully drew sketches and planned dimensions, somehow, though, I never got beyond the planning stages. And then, last year a very-pregnant Sacha and I visited a large Modernism exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. Upon entering the exhibit space, visitors were greeted with long rows of Rietveld chairs lining each staircase. It then occurred to me that very little would be cooler than a homemade copy of the chair for my not-yet-born son.

More than a year later, I finally finished Hugo’s chair, and just in time for his first birthday no less.  Constructing the chair wasn’t terribly difficult (painting the thing proved to be the bigger hassle) though it did take time (almost two weeks). I found Rietveld’s original plans published in a book that this gentleman helpfully scanned and posted to his blog. I then scaled all the dimensions down by half.

Kitchen Table

I’m familiar with woodworking as my father is a (retired) cabinetmaker. I know my way around hand tools and with the help of friends’ mitre saw I was able to cut and assemble all the pieces down in the distinctly non-workshop environs of our small San Francisco apartment. Then came coats of primer and paint. Final assembly, et voila:

Finished Product

After a couple of days of impatiently waiting for the paint to dry I decided it was time for the big test. Would the boy sit in his chair? Would he scream and squirm? Would two weeks of cursing at sticks and cans of paint be for nought? I positioned my boy above the chair then gently lowered him down. He seemed tentative at first, finally relaxing enough to recline fully, then he actually smiled. He was cool as a cucumber in his chair. Wearing those strange Swedish shoes his mom found, Hugo looked like some Euro intellectual. A diapered de stijl devotee.

Rietveld Red-Blue Chair

Although I built the chair to half of Rietveld’s original dimensions I really can’t see Hugo fitting in this thing for too long. Hopefully he’ll give me the pleasure of sitting in his chair contentedly for at least a few months…

Had Enough...

As In ‘To Swing’

2 06 2008

Yesterday Hugo and I spent the day together. In the absence of his mother’s car (at work) and the fact that society and John Q. Law says that Hugo is not yet allowed on the back of my Vespa (though if we lived in Vietnam things would be much different) our options for activities were a bit limited. We could always take Muni somewhere but Hugo has actually been warming to his stroller lately and I didn’t want to lug that thing on a crowded, sweaty bus, so walking it was. Last week, while exploring the city on my scooter (sans boy) I came across a playground above the clouds in a neighborhood called Diamond Heights. The playground, named for an extremely rich man, is beautiful, with new equipment and amazing views of the City, bay, and beyond. This place, I decided, was where I would bring my boy.

So, we packed our provisions, like a couple of sherpas. Zwieback crackers, water in a sippy cup, a diaper change, sensible shoes, and a couple of containers of Cheerios, and set off. I won’t lie to you, I’m not in terrific shape, and these streets are steep. Hugo’s also tipping the scales at about 20 pounds these days, so that stroller wasn’t without its weight. Up up up we climbed, stopping every block, and then every half block, papa panting, Hugo sympathetically gumming his crackers and tossing cheerios down the impossibly angled 29th street.

Finally, somehow, we made it to the top, and though I considered swiping some water from Hugo’s sippy cup, he kept his good mood.

This was his (but mostly my) reward:

Swings IV

Listening to his squeals makes the pain in my legs go away.

Do the Right Thing

16 05 2008

(Hugo, looking like he’s about to throw a trash can through the window of Sal’s Pizzeria.)

It’s hot here. San Francisco, usually the coldest place in months like May (and July and August) is experiencing record high heat. No one has air conditioning (or swimming pools) and Hugo doesn’t find it the least bit funny.

In an attempt to take advantage of this rare heat Sacha and I took Hugo to the beach today.
He was quite taken with the water and gritty sand between his chubby toes. Because it was Alameda, and thus not really the “ocean” beach, the water was calm and warm. We lunched on the hot sand and occasionally dipped our pink warm son in the water to cool off.

By the time we left, our boy’s face and chest was covered in a potent swirl of sweat, salt water, sand, snot, cheese, cheerios, ham (I think), and drool (of course). He was quite the picture in his car seat on the way home, wearing only his diaper and the sun hat we affectionately call his “meth hat” (because it looks like it belongs to a biker in Lake County that wears cut off Levi’s and likes to go innertubing). The seeming discomforts didn’t bother him, though, and he kept up good spirits all the while.

Maybe next time it gets hot we’ll just go innertubing…

Més que un soci*

24 04 2008


One of the primary reasons we started our trip to Europe in Barcelona was so that Hugo and I could attend an FC Barcelona match at the hallowed Estadi Camp Nou. Apart from being the greatest sports organization in the world, Futbol Club Barcelona also has a special place in Hugo’s heart: it is the first organization to which he has ever belonged. Soon after Hugo was born I signed him up as a club member (or soci). Barça is a club completely owned by its dues paying members, rather than by fatcat rich guys like most other sports teams. I present you with Soci number 154432.

The match we attended this month, Barça vs. Getafe, was not of the greatest quality. Barça has been having a pretty bad season (they’re currently in third place, the despised Francoists of Real Madrid are in first) and the match ended in a dull 0-0 draw which pleased the home crowd none too much. However the experience was great. The stadium is a temple really and it was my first time at a match there (I’d been before, in 2001, but could not get tickets for a game). Hugo was wearing his Barça bib and drew compliments and smiles from everyone we saw, on the Metro and at the stadium:
Fellow Fans

At the Camp Nou

I felt really bad before the match that I was dragging my family to a 98,000 capacity stadium for a soccer game that started at 9pm, particularly considering how badly jet lag had affected Hugo since we’d arrived. I shouldn’t have worried, he was perfectly behaved, content to drink his bottle at times, other times waving his arms excitedly. As soon as the game ended and we wended our way out of the stadium my poor sweet brave boy couldn’t take it anymore, and he collapsed in his Bjorn.

He stayed asleep like this for quite some time, even as we survived a crushing crowd to board the Metro. I shielded his snoring little body with my forearms and elbows as thousands of fellow fans jostled around us.

Will he remember his first Barça match? Of course not. Will he even like soccer? Who knows, but we’ll always have this experience and some photos (not to mention this video clip of my son having his snot wiped from him by his mom during the triumphant Barça himno….

“More than a club member” in Catalan, a lazy riff on the club’s motto “Més que un club“.

Typing Softly While Hugo Sleeps

11 09 2007

I don’t have anything clever to write. I could tell you that Hugo’s had some incredibly fussy and cranky moments lately, that last night was certainly not the best night of sleep I’ve ever had. That he seems to have sworn off the Kangaroo pouch, the only thing that was a surefire bet for calming him and getting through dinner (my dinner, that is).

But what’s the point? This photograph makes me so happy that, if I never sleep uninterrupted again, I’ll be okay…