Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Modern Parenting

Travis, my sweet boy who never does anything wrong (ha!), upped my parenting game the other day. Tamila was babysitting him while I was at work and he was refusing to listen to her. Besides being his normal crazy self, the most aggregious thing he had done was to dump the toy basket all over the living room. And Travis, being Travis, refused to pick it up. Tamila called me out of desperation and I did my best to threaten him over the phone to no avail. So what's a mother to do? Write the threat down, make angry eyes and take a pic to send to him of course.

Did it work? You betcha! What's even more amazing is that he can't even read yet! (Which makes sense when you realize not all of my message made the pic.) I guess it was the new text threat format and the angry eyes that did it!

(And no, those aren't curlers on my head: that's just the Lighthouse sign behind me.)


Friday, March 26, 2010


Hi. My name is Laurel and I'm an info junkie.

Whilst perusing my cell phone bill this morning I discovered an interesting statistic: I downloaded over 465,000 kilobytes of data on my iPhone last month. The closest person to me in our family of 6 was my dear daughter at 257,000+. What does that say about me? I'm a info junkie. Now that I have my personal stash of info crack with me everywhere I go, my brain is using it to feeds it insatsiable desire for knowledge. Thank goodness for unlimited data plans!

Now about my daughter: she's the big texter in the family with over a 1,000. (Paling in comparison I'm sure to some of her peers.) The talker? Billy with almost 600 minutes. That number used to be higher before texting became the language du jour. But this statistic shouldn't surprise anyone who knows him well. The man is known for talking so much at dinner that we're all on dessert by the time he just starts to eat his cold plate of food.

So there you have it. My name is Laurel and I'm the info junkie of the Baker household.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I love Baseball...

I love baseball. Not just for the nuances of the game, it's all American appeal, the friendships I've made or even the excuse to just sit and enjoy the sun. No...I love baseball because it's given me the chance to watch my boys grow.

Now, I know that one can watch their kids grow up on a daily basis. I get that. Baseball has forced me to sit on the sidelines, be still and see my boys grow not just physically, but socially and emotionally too. It gives me a window into their true selves (and my own sometimes...I've discovered I'm a little competitive. Who knew? haha!)

What brought about this declaration? I found some pictures of Austin's first year in baseball this morning while cleaning. It made me all sappy and teary eyed so I had to share a few...

Austin, 9 years old.

His first year catching.

Seen this move before.

Austin, 16 years.

Yesterday at HBHS.

I have more pics to share of all of them, but I'll spare you and take my time to publish them over time. :)


Monday, March 15, 2010

Competitive Camping

I set my alarm two months ahead knowing it was coming.

I practiced my skills to make sure I had what it took to get the job done.

I tested my equipment to make sure all the pieces and parts were in place and in working.

Daily I would check to see if all systems were go...and they were.

I could barely sleep last night because I was so excited about the day finally coming.

I woke up a minute before my alarm because my soul knew it was time...

It was time to get up and make my camping reservations for Yosemite!

Why all the prep and care you ask? The competition is brutal! They only open up one month windows of reservations, 4 months ahead of time on the 15th of every month, starting at 7am PDT. I signed in, found my site and started hitting refresh with a manic speed before the clock hit 7. Tap, tap, heart was pounding out of my chest in anticipation.

What did I get?

Nothing. A big fat zero.

All of the reservations were taken up in less than 2 minutes. 2 minutes! By the time I moved onto another campsite, the available options were all gone. My heart was in agony and my distressed cry woke up the whole house. Where did I go wrong? Cruel, cruel world! All I wanted to do was to get into Yosemite! AUGGGHHHH!

I accepted my defeat and crawled back into bed--saddened to the core. In between deep sighs and pondering my plan B a lightbulb went off in my head. I remember a little box on the reservation screen saying "All reservations will be held for 15 minutes until completion. If not complete...campsite will be lost."


I glaced at my phone: 7:14. I had time to go cash in on someone else's failure to complete their site. Or at least to catch a castoff.

I dashed back to my computer, tapped furiously, refreshing a few times and Jackpot! I found a campsite! On the days I wanted even! WOO HOO!


Now, I'm tired, but happy. I'm glad I got into one of the busiest, dense, crazy national parks out there. We will be literally elbow to elbow with our neighbors living in the dust fending off bears and mosquitoes. But we will also be literally elbow to elbow in what John Muir termed "Nature's Cathedral". And I wouldn't trade that reservation for the world.


Friday, March 12, 2010


I put carrots in Aaron's lunch today. Well, at least I started to. When Aaron saw the baggie with 5 baby carrots in it, his lips started to quiver and he let out a very unhappy squeal. (If you've ever heard it--it's definitely a squeal!) I was so frustrated--this battle over veggies has been going on for way too long. I finally had it and decided to do the unthinkable: I told him to eat a carrot or he couldn't go to school.

You would've thought I asked him to eat a raw onion! Just the thought of eating the carrot made him start to gag. Knowing he had no other choice, he pressed on and took a teeny bite of the carrot and chewed it quickly without tasting--tears welling up in his eyes the whole time. Gagging, he took another bite and did the same thing. However--he refused to swallow it. This kid, who can swallow pills without water chipmunked a whole chewed up baby carrot in his cheeks. Sternly, I repeated my mandate about school and he managed to choke it down. (This tactic wouldn't work for Travis by the way, he would've cheerfully chucked the carrot in the trash and called me on my bluff. He likes veggies so this wouldn't be a problem in the first place, thank goodness!)

So, back to the problem at hand.

What gives? This kid will drink V8 like there's no tomorrow, but refuses to actually eat a vegetable. He'll eat lettuce leaves without the dressing. He'll claim to love a veggie, take two bites and start getting nauseous on the third! I would love to say I won the battle by making him eat the carrot. But I know it will continue as long as he lives at home: 9 years of gagging and squealing down, 9 more years to go.

Let the veggies battles continue!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Breaking up is hard to do...

I don't know how to say this. We've had a relationship for my whole life. My heart would pound in anticipation of your ring. When I heard your bell I would come dashing, eager to hear the voice on the other end. Over the years sweet sounds of family and friends awaited me when I lifted that receiver to your landline. It was all good for a really, really long time.

Until...well, until cellphones came along. First it started with one cell phone. Now--we have 5 of them in the family and, well--you never ring anymore. The only time you ring is when an annoying telemarketer uses you for their evil purposes. Why do you let yourself get used like that? It breaks my heart! To top if off when you do ring--you mess up my internet cable modem for days. Home Phone--it's almost as if you knew what was coming and decided to make us pay.

I'm sorry, but you must go.

No, no, no...please don't cry! Really--it's not you. It's just us...we've moved on. So, you have one week left in our household. I know it will be awkward for all of us, but I'm sure we can deal with this like adults.

With my sincere regards,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Family Tradition

I admit it. I have warped my children...they love watching the Oscar's Red Carpet on E. I am not ashamed.

Our family tradition started years ago when Austin and Tamila were mere babes. Billy would be off doing his Oscar gig and I was lonely--so what was I supposed to do? I popped popcorn, poured soda and watch the red carpet with my kids. We would watch the parade of stars and occasionally I would excitedly point out that Daddy was there somewhere amongst all the hub-bub. Fast forward several years and we still watch the red carpet together. Repeating this year after year has created an emotional connection with the Oscar's and excitement about being their Dad's kid. Too me that's awesome. Hopefully someday they'll watch the red carpet with their kids too.

So, to some, Hollywood maybe shallow--but to us, it's a connection with our family. Happy Oscar's everyone!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kindergarten Don Juan

See this sweet innocent face? He's the face of the boy you want to keep your daughters away from. Particularly if they're blonde. Yikes! What did we get ourselves with child #4? In the past month he's announced that he has a girlfriend. (A blonde!) Kissed a girl. (A blonde!) Held hands secretively in the lobby of church with yet another girl. (A non-blonde for a change of pace. I guess.) Seriously, the boy is going to need a full time chaperone in highschool. Scratch that--the boy needs full time chaperoning now!

The older children are already grateful that they're going to be off to college and adulthood by the time he reaches highschool. They gloat about the fact that we'll be left alone with Don Juan and his trail of broken hearts. Maybe he'll calm down by then and decide that girls are a waste of time and academics are where it's at. Hmm.

I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

We're still kickin' it on ol'blue.

The Baker family has been slacking on the Blog as of late. Okay, fine...not as of late, but for almost 6 months. So I'm here to state that we're alive and well in HB! Baseball season has kicked in with all three boys playing. Tamila is busy leading her Flex small group and surviving the everyday dramas of Jr. High. Between the four of them I have plenty of blog fodder being created as we speak. So--this is a warning shot over your bow: watch out the Baker's are going to start posting again!

Oh,like the picture? Nasa released a new set of earth pictures this last week using a composite of satelite photos. The clarity and colors are insane! Here is the flipside in case you were curious:


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Unforgiving Nature

It's time to tell a tale of woe...of Juliet and her Romeo.

Okay fine...not of Juliet and Romeo, but of our attempt to go on a hike to Avalanche Lake.

The ranger the night before had told us to "Run with the sun to have fun in Glacier National Park". So, when we woke up that pleasantly warm Friday morning with the sun sort of peeking through the clouds we fueled up on a quick breakfast and dashed to the trail. We parked our car at the trailhead, stuck bear bells on the kids, grabbed our backpack full of first aid supplies and grizzly spray and headed up the trail. We chattered along happily enjoying the sounds of the roaring creek and the views of the dense forest around us. (For my Twilight friends...Tamila and I kept waiting for a Cullen to pop out from behind a tree...alas, it never happened!)

Our two mile hike started out uneventfully. I admit that our crew got winded and had to take a couple of stops on the way. Nobody was in pain though and everything was smooth until the first little patter of rain drops started to fall on on the trees above us. Since the rain had been pretty light for previous two days, we thought nothing of it and pressed on.

The rain began to fall harder and the little tiny streams we had to cross were getting deeper and angrier. We threw our only two ponchos on the youngest boys and determined to go on. Never minding the droves of hikers coming down the trail past us. Billy and I started to develop stiff backs yet, we and our crew pressed on--Faster! Higher! (Stronger? nah)

Rain came sheeting down on us and our thin clothing--our non-weather proof clothing was getting soaked. Poor Tamila was just wearing shorts, t-shirt and a sweatshirt. We all started to shiver a bit but moved on, we were so close to our goal. As we rounded the last bend of the trail a gaggle of hikers slogged towards us through the mud: They hastily informed us that a momma grizzly and her cubs had been spotted not to far up the trail ahead. "You'll be fine--we're sure!" were their reassurances. Instantly we got into paranoid mode. 6 Baker's vs a momma grizzly=no contest. Grizzly would win hands down!

Spying the lake we took tentative steps towards it wary of any moving objects. All we saw was this:

Our beautiful lake should've looked like this:

Get the picture? It was soggy, wet and a whopping 45 degrees and grizzlies were on the loose. We snapped two pics and headed back down the hill.

As we were walking poor Travis decided that his legs were tired, so Billy had Austin double up on backpacks and walking sticks. We stumbled down the trail in our loose pack when I noticed that Tamila wasn't saying anything. I asked her what was wrong and she informed me that she couldn't see out of her right eye and was developing a migraine. Worry spread through my heart as I held her arm and guided her along the trail. The poor girl was shivering, blind and in pain.

Ahead on the trail Austin shed his sticks because his hands were starting to go numb and white from the cold and he could no longer hold them. Billy lugged Travis along with his back spasming the whole way. Aaron chippered happily down the trail without a scratch or a hint of hypothermia. He was in good shape.--unlike the rest of us. Our normally happy crew turned silent and the jingle of bear bells and Aaron's voice were our only protection against the grizzlies.

Our hearts filled with relief once we saw our waiting car. We stripped Travis out of his wet clothes into some dry ones we had left in the car just in case. We threw a dry sweatshirt on Tamila, cranked up the heat on the car and headed back to camp. The drive home took forever--I nervously kept checking on Tamila to keep tabs on her status and hoping to prevent her from barfing in the car.

Our camp had been flooded in our absence. Our EZ Up had been crushed by the weight of the rain. Literally the legs and rivets were snapped due to the downpour that came down. A river had rushed through our campsite, around and under our tent. Thankfully, the design of our tent had kept everything dry and warm. As Billy and Austin tore down our smashed EZ Up, I took care of poor slightly hypothermic Tamila in the tent. (her temp was actually down a couple of degrees.)

Thankfully, she recovered quickly. Austin and Billy rigged up a new tarp system to keep our eating area dry. Aaron and Travis snarfed down food like no other.

We learned a hard lesson that day: Never go hiking unprepared. What looks like a nice day for hiking can swiftly turn into your nightmare. I've heard it said that nature doesn't punish you for existing--it's just very unforgiving of mistakes. Our mistake that day was not being prepared. A backpack containing a couple of ponchos, bear spray, a first aid kid and some granola bars doesn't cut it! Next time we will be better prepared.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Mountain lion in winter at Glacier

Ranger programs are a fascinating bit of Americana. When you go to one you know exactly what to expect: outdoor seating (slightly damp of course), grainy slideshows lead by a varied selection of presenters, information about the world around you and getting a workout from swatting at the mosquitos buzzing your ear. What you don't expect is a new nickname for your youngest child.

As the hours to our first full day in Glacier came to a close, we journeyed to the ampitheater ready for a program about Glacier's history. The ranger who led the talk didn't disappoint--his program was informative and very entertaining. He taught us such gems as: "Run with the sun to have fun in Glaaiceer National Park". In his sweet tenor voice he also regaled us with lovely stories about the mountain lions in the park. He launched into a sermon about protecting your children due to the mountain lions predilection to eat smaller animals and easier prey. (In fact a mountain lion had run down a kid on a bike a few years previous. Thankfully the kid survived.)

As he went on and on about the dangers of mountain lions I leaned over to my sweet family and breathed out the words quietly: "Snack. We'll just start calling Travis 'Snack' from now on." My family quietly erupted in laughter. It was one of those moments where you start laughing about something that you know you really shouldn't be...but it's really funny and totally can't help it.

So, ladies and gentlemen...if you hear us calling out the word "Snack" don't assume we're asking you if you'd like one. We're just looking for Travis.

(Don't bother telling me that we're twisted...we already know that!)


Friday, September 25, 2009

Beauty from Ashes...Thursday afternoon in Glacier

Yes, Ladies and 'Gentlemen...I'm still blogging about Glacier. :) This time I'll be short of words and longer on pics.

After Travis's rough morning of being sick, he miraculousy recovered for our car ride to Logan Pass. As our car climbed over the continental divide we caught glimpses of God's incredible creation through a thick fog. Views of jagged peaks covered with snow, tumbling waterfalls and lush green flora were forever carved in our hearts as we made our journey. The plants and rocks were so gorgeous--they make man's feeble attempts a landscaping look like child's play. I wish all of you could have been there with us.

Our view as we rounded a bend on the way down. The sheer drop off on the left was unsettling to think of.

One of the many views through the fog.

The flowers were incredible. This pic is just one of many--they were in every color of the rainbow. Awesome!

Later that day we went on a hike through an area that had burned in 2003. It's amazing to see how the area has recovered so beautifully.

The trail before us...right before the burn area.

Truly beauty from ashes...

Austin leading the way as usual.

A view through the trees.

On a light note: we carried our bear deterrent to protect us. As another safety measure we had to sing and talk loudly as we climbed along the trail. (Being loud is not an issue for us!) Spongebob (F.U.N., Best Day Ever), Chowder and a couple of Chris Tomlin's songs were in our repertoire. I'm sure the grizzlies weren't only forewarned of our presence but highly entertained (or scared) as well!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Plans of Mice and Men: Or Thursday morning in Gla-cee-er

Our first morning in Glacier dawned with the pitter patter of raindrops on our tent. Fortunately, our tent was warm and dry inside, filled with the snores of our cozy family. Being west coast Baker's we slept in until 10 and enjoyed our leisurely morning. Billy took the boys down to the lake while I made a good ol' camp breakfast of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast. (YUM! Bacon smells good...but when you're camping I swear the smell is magnified and turned into something completely irresistable when you toss in campfire smoke and pine needles.)

Here is one of the pics that Billy took down at the lake:

Notice anything wrong?

Travis doesn't look happy...that was probably due to the fact that he promptly threw up the minute he returned to camp. As I held my poor pukey kid that morning I was pessimistically looking forward to spending days in camp with a sick kid. Before we had left on vacation a nasty stomach bug had been making the rounds at church--it was so bad that I kept the kids at home the weekend before we left lest they would get the bug.

Oh the plans of mice and men!

Holding Travis I was fully aware that I had failed in my feeble attempts to control my kid's exposure to the bug. (Which, from what I heard upon our return had continued to rip through our congregation and even into the kids at camp.) He looked so pitiful and homeless. Me holding him by the fire while the rain pattered on our tarp.

But. Travis being Travis, he was fully recovered by lunch and raring to go on a car ride and hike. Although his recovery was miraculous and obviously not the dreaded bug, poor Aaron viewed Travis with a suspicious eye for the next two days. Anything Travis touched, breathed on or even looked at Aaron refused to touch. Just imagine a two hour car ride with the two of them sitting next to each other. The picture below is of us taking the Going to the Sun Road. As you see, Travis has knocked out after his tiring morning and Aaron is next to him. What it fails to record are the occasional squeals of horror from Aaron and his appeals to ride with the window open. He wanted fresh air to protect against the germs. For the record, he didn't catch anything--his survival skills worked.

Next post: A ride over the mountains and a hike through the woods.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

not my pic--I admit, I stole it!

See this picture? It's deceiving. The sun is shining...there's nary a cloud in the sky and the sky is robin's egg blue. In actuality when we rolled into Glacier National Park (the boys pronounce is "Glae-cee-r" all proper like) the rain clouds we had watched during our laundromat experience continued their down pour.

This would be great if we had a cabin. This would be fine if we had a trailer. This would be okay if we had a conversion van.

We didn't have any of those things.

We had a tent.

To make it worse our biggest tent is 17x10 feet. Our lot was designed for a tent half that size. The bathroom was a stones throw away to boot. We took a look, plus another drive by and decided that it wasn't going to work for us and headed back to the ranger station. Our incredibly sweet ranger friend informed us that she could change our reservation but there was a hitch: her power and phone were out. Also, to change everything would involve refunding, repaying money and moving halfway through our stay. So, we trudged through another time just to make sure the grass wasn't greener somewhere else and finally decided to accept what we'd been given. (Which turned out to be a massive gift instead of a drawback...another story coming soon.)

Dejavue kicked in as we made another loop back to our spot. By now the neighbors were staring at the freaks who kept driving by. As we stepped out of our car we felt the taunting thoughts of our neighbors bearing down on us . It was almost as though I could hear their thoughts: "Heh, heh...a bunch of rookies. Let's see them put up camp in the rain. Ha!" "Californians! This will be fun to watch!" "Wimps!"

Ha! They didn't know what they were dealing with. They were dealing with the Baker's! So what if we had a tent? So what if there were buckets of rain falling from the sky! We set it up without a hitch and dealt with it. That's what you do as a Baker--deal with what you've been given and make s'mores to celebrate afterwards.

Here is pic of our camp:


Monday, September 14, 2009

On your Mark! Get set! Wait!

Bojangles, not my pic

It was D-Day. We had made it! Glacier National Park was less than 30 miles away. The kids were ready. We were ready. However, the park wasn't ready--check-in wasn't until 1 pm. So, what to do? Eat!

As we wandered around town looking for breakfast we stumbled upon Bojangles. It was on the edge of town and the parking lot was full of local license plates. To us, this was a good sign. Locals usually know where the best food at the best price is...and they were right.

Bojangles was stuffed to the gills with a 50's memorabilia collection. On each table was the local handout of randomness (that's the only way to describe it: kind of like a massive church bulletin filled with events, small articles, corny jokes and random bits of information.) The kids played I Spy while Billy and I perused the local goings on in our, um, bulletins? When our breakfast came we were not disappointed. Our eggs were cooked to perfection (we all decided they were the best we had ever eaten) and the pancakes were sublime.

The laundromat lurks just behind the corner...

After our yummy breakfast we still had time to kill so we went to the laundromat to finish up on last minute laundry. As our wash tumbled we noticed the clouds in the sky were looking darker than they had during breakfast. Sure enough it started to rain buckets and the kids were ecstatic. Can you believe they spent 45 minutes sitting on the front porch of the laundromat just watching the rain and wind? Crazy Californian kids--they were so fascinated! This of course, drew the locals attention to the fact that we weren't from around there...the clerk inquired as to where we were from and the word "California" explained it all. She, too, was from California (Bakersfield, where else?) and enjoyed watching our poor precipitation deprived children enjoy the rain.

The rain had arrived and it wasn't going away...yes...more blog posts to come.