Thanksgiving Breakfast

Simeon had heard all the hubbub about about Thanksgiving meal and had this to say: "My first Thanksgiving meal? It was like Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace — a lot of hype, but pretty bland. And, my Dad was fruitlessly trying to get me to smile the whole time — more annoying than funny — sorta like JarJar Binks. All in all, I'm just thankful my first Thanksgiving meal is over."


Take Mini Driver off my credits

Sarah has been lobbying for a larger vehicle — a crossover (clever marketing term to make me not feel environmental guilt for driving an SUV) more specifically — for some time.

"It's much more practical," she argued.

"When we have the baby, I will need something higher off the ground than the Camry," she would say.

The Toyota Camry that Sarah has been driving is getting up in years, so we have been proactive in saving for a new crossover. One problem, I thought it was a good idea to put our car savings in the stock market. Have you seen the stock market lately? That money turned from "car money" to Simeon's college savings faster than I could say "Wall Street Bailout."

"Well," I said, "we have more equity in my Mini, it probably makes more sense to sell my car to buy the new one. Then I'll drive the Camry and you can drive the new car." It was a moment of complete selflessness — or lunacy — I'm not sure which. Sarah wasted nary a nanosecond in taking me up on the offer.

I have driven a 2004 Mini Cooper named Pepé since, well, 2004. I loved that car. I loved that it's fuel efficient. I loved that I could parallel park where no other car would dare, unless it was lowered in by a helicopter. I loved when people would marvel at how a man of above average size, like myself, could fit comfortably inside. I loved the looks I would get when pulling up to the garden center at Lowe's and load massive amounts of soil, mulch and plants into the back. I understood their intrigue; It was like watching clowns pile in to a VW Beetle. And, I loved the styling and design that you just don't get in a Ford Taurus. To me, inside the cab is where form and function live happily ever after.

As you might have surmised from all the "-ed" suffixes in the paragraph above, I said "Adiós" to Pepé this weekend.

I spent most of the day on Sunday cleaning the Mini, and then the evening feeling sad about selling it. Since then, I've just felt bad about feeling sad. After all, it's just a car, a material thing, right?

Last night, I went to the garage to meet our new car. It's a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe (I haven't given it a name yet, but I'm thinking Kimchi). I spent the first two minutes in the driver's seat playing with all the buttons and switces while trying to convince myself that this Santa Fe is not a gateway vehicle to a minivan.

Then, I imagined the three of us on road trips together, kayaks strapped to the roof, bike rack on the back, jogging stroller in the back, and well, I'm okay with not being a Mini driver.


Allow me to introduce myself

Emelia always has a big morning greeting waiting for me in the kitchen. That's just one of the reasons I love her.

She is one of many who Robert Mugabe has it out for, so she's here on political asylum from Zimbabwe. I have scarcely known someone so full of joy and energy. It's contagious. To top it off, she wears a beret. How charming is that?

Emelia also helps clean our house, which is why once a month she's in the kitchen to give me a big morning greeting. This morning was no different. Well, a little different.

In sync with my first step on the cold tile kitchen floor, Emelia turned and said, "Goooood Mohning, Baba Simeon!" I asked for her to repeat herself, which I often do; my ability to find the English language deep within her Zimbabwean accent is still a work in progress. "I said, good mohning Baba Simeon."

She went on to tell me that in Zimbabwe, when a person has a child or grandchild, you no longer use your first name. Baba means father. That makes me father of Simeon — Baba Simeon.

It's wonderful, a perfect reflection of how I feel nowadays. I have never felt so selfless in my life. I spent a good many years as Ryan Noel; Then, I spent a good many more learning to be Husband Sarah; Now, I have another name to grow into.

Hello, my name is Baba Simeon.


'Tis nesting season

You know those lazy cold weather days when you just want to put on your most comfortable lounging clothes, make a warm beverage of choice, curl up under a blanket with your beloved and watch a movie or four?

I wish every wintry day was like this.

Spooning on the couch, when combined with the elements mentioned above, is nice — and perfectly lazy. But spooning comes with a few impositions that stand in the way of complete relaxation:
  • My bottom arm always falls asleep.
  • What if I need to go to the bathroom, or get a refill of my warm beverage? I don't want Sarah to have to get up every time and then have to get the blankets situated all over again.
  • Sarah's hair sometimes gets in my nose - and that really tickles
  • I can't see Sarah's eyes to know if she's fallen asleep on me; She needs a friendly nudge on occasion.
I concede that these two problems aren't major, but there's no reason we can't do lazy better. Doing lazy better — this is what motivated me and Sarah to create The Nest.

It's simple:
  • Pick your spot. We find that nestled in next to the love seat and couch is best (the cushion-free furniture makes a nice spot to place snacks and beverages),
  • Pull all the cushions off of your couches, love seats, etc.
  • Arrange cushions neatly (pile extra cushions an pillows at the head)
  • Move an ottoman (makes a handy remote control holder) or other piece of furniture in so the only open side of the nest is at the foot (where the TV is)
  • Pile in loads of blankets
  • Press play
The term "nesting" often refers to expectant parents getting the house ready for the newest member of your family. Maybe that is why Sarah and I often dreamed of a time when our own kid(s) would join us in The Nest. Between Godfather films, we would talk about how fun it would be to Nest as a family; it could be a Noel tradition.

Well, we just had our first Nest-worthy days of the season this past weekend. So, while Sarah changed Simeon's diaper and put him into his cuddly blue fleecy sleep sack, I prepared The Nest and queued the movie — Sweeney Todd.

I know, Sweeney Todd is totally inappropriate for a child. But, I got to cover his eyes, like my mom would have done to me (and probably still would), every time ole Sweeney decided to slash an unsuspecting patron's throat — which was roughly every 47 seconds.

Even with Tim Burton's creepiest, Simeon knew what to do in The Nest: curl up with his beloved and relax.


Grow up? Nah.

I'm not sure I'll ever grow out of getting Dum-Dum lollipops from the bank, bubblegum toothpaste from the dental hygienist, plastic spider rings for 10 skee-ball tickets, or stickers for showing bravery when faced with a flu shot.


The quickest way to creepy

I spend every October growing a beard, such as it is. My beard isn't very full the way beards are supposed to be — not like my dad's beard. My dad's beard is so even and fine that my mom threatens divorce at the mere mention of him shaving. We'll never know whether she means it, because my dad loves her too much to risk finding out. He's had a beard for as long as I can remember, with one notable exception.

I was 3, maybe 4, when my mom and I came home from somewhere — probably a fabric store (My admittedly selective memory places me in a fabric store with my mom for about 72% of my formative years.) The bathroom door at the top of the stairs slammed shut in perfect time with my mom opening the front door. Half a beat later my mom cried, "Daaaaave! Did you shave your beard?!" That was the first and only time I've seen my dad sans facial fur.

My beard is partly a celebration of my favorite season, autumn, but mostly it is so I can have a mustache for Halloween. While scary is Halloween's calling card, I settle comfortably into creepy. My hypothesis is that the quickest way to creepy is to shave your beard down to a mustache. Below is my Halloween experiment (I call it: 1980s Disney Dad) that supports this hypothesis, and also supports my mother's position that my dad allow the razor to continue catching dust.