Thursday, January 31, 2008


Due to our children doing homework until 10ish we gave up on watching the Lost premiere tonight. Billy and I could've watched it by ourselves, but knowing our propensity to fall asleep on the couch we decided to be good parents and put if off until tomorrow night so the whole family could watch it together. So, we go forth tomorrow into a world full of people who know what happened on Lost last night. Sadly, we won't be one of them.

I hope our children appreciate the sacrifice we've made as parents.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Republican Debate

I watched the Republican Debate tonight mainly because it took place at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. If you ever get a chance to visit it is well worth it. The historical documents are interesting, but the piece de resistance is the Air Force One Pavilion. The room that houses Air Force One has a breathtaking view of the valley below. The plane's landing gear is resting on three cement columns above the main floor so you can walk underneath it. It appears to be taking off through the massive wall of windows that is the architectural hightlight of the building.

Now to the politics. My heart would love to vote for someone like Huckabee, but I don't believe he can win it. I love many of his arguments and his unique debating style. I appreciate his honesty with many tough questions. He doesn't seem to dance around the hard question. In light of the primary in California next week I am trying to decide who to vote for. Here is what I presented to a couple of my friends today.

Based on the polls I think my vote for Huckabee is not going to help him stay in this contest. Having said that, I am not a big fan of McCain. He seems to be pretty inflexible and I am not sure if in our day in age inflexibility is going to be an asset in Washington or the world. That doesn't mean I want someone who gives in on principles, etc., but rather someone who can work with others to find solutions. McCain would definitely be a strong foreign policy candidate.

On the other hand I believe that Romney would be great at helping reestablish a strong economy on the domestic side. I know you shouldn't judge books by their cover, but Romney looks and acts more like a President in the prime of his leadership years. My main deal with Romney is the fact that he is a Mormon.

Here is my premise. If Huckabee were a front runner I would like voters to vote for or against him based on his record and ability to lead not the fact that he is a Christian. There are enough checks and balances in place to keep a President from "taking over the world" in a religious sense.

I have to say the same thing about Romney then. I should vote on his record and his ability to lead. I also think he would be able to compete against Obama's youth and ability to communicate better than McCain. McCain campaigning against Obama reminds me of when Bob Dole ran against Bill Clinton. I also think Romney can compete against Hillary's supposed strengths.

At this point I think my vote will be for Romney, but who knows until I get to the voting booth.



Travis at 16 mos.

You know you live in a house of boys when:

Your youngest child is excited about the new hat he found and proudly shows it off at dinner.

Distractedly, you congratulate him on his find....until you realize it's his brother's baseball cup.

Yep, I said "cup"...not "cap".



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Design Revolutionary

Well...I did it. I did something so shocking I think my poor Mom might have a cow about it. (Mother-in-law too!...Sorry!)

I got rid of my kitchen table.

Why, you ask? Let's see...four growing kids, two adults living in approximately 1150 square feet can be beyond chaotic. It seems as though we're always tripping over something (or someone). The table itself was never used because of our crazy schedule. It had become a depository for books, the sock box (another blog someday) and whatever else found its way there during the day. Our two couches were scrunched together in the living room and all of us had bruises from banging our shins on the coffee table. So much furniture and so many people in a tiny area made it feel claustrophobic and look very cluttered. The cramped spaces were turning us into unhappy lot.

To those who question my are the answers to your questions:

"Where will you eat?"--Where we've been eating all along at the coffee tables and wherever else we found ourselves. To be honest there wasn't enough room or chairs to go around the original table anyway!

"Where will the kids do their homework?"--In their rooms at their desk.

"What about special celebrations or company"?--We have fold-away tables for those lovely occasions. 9 times out of 10 we're at someone else's for those days...even for our own children's birthdays.

"What if you change your mind...won't you feel stupid that you threw away a perfectly good table?"--Have you seen my table? It was beyond help...when I bought it I was determined to not get one with a carved groove in it. I ordered a table without the groove. They delivered a grooved one anyway. At that time in my life I didn't want to hassle with exchanging it so I didn't bother. I wish I had. Let's just say that groove turned out to be the resting place for many food and dirt particles that never could be dislodged. Yuck. Enough said. I'll buy another table someday.

We have an incredible landlord who let's us rent this place for an unbelievably low price. (Props to Stanley Stauble!) Due to the low rent, I can stay home with the kids. The only drawback is the small space and some "essentials" have to go...the kitchen table was one of them. (I'd rather toss that than one of my kids!)


Monday, January 28, 2008

My Daughter

With all the rain we've been having Tamila has been in absolute heaven. Her favorite thing to do (and has always been) is to run outside and dance in the rain. You'd think that being in Jr. High she would regard that as too childish...nah. Both she and her friend Annie were doing a folk dance of some sort out in the backyard yesterday while the wind was slashing the house with rain. It was entertaining I have to admit. Kind of strange. But totally not expected when it comes to those two! Ahhhh....I remember those days. Back when I'd play in 15 degree weather in shorts with no shoes. Maybe she's smarter than me...looking back now the rain option is a little bit safer. For her benefit...I hope she never forgets to dance in the rain once in a while.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Paige is Back on Trading Places

A few years ago Laurel and I used to watch Trading Places every week. Then Ty Penningtonleft, Vern Yip left, and ultimately Paige Davis, the host left. (Not necessarily in that order.)

After she left, we watched the new format a few times, but it wasn't the same. Well tonight she is back and I have already set my TIVO like device to record tonight's episode. I am glad that the executives at TLC figured out there was something wrong with the show.

It airs tonight after the Miss America pageant at 10pm. It will be on at 9pm on Saturdays starting the 2nd of February.

I hope it is better than it used to be. If not, "Trading Spaces" may have lost its market.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Midnight Sentinel

Wow! The rain last night was insane. I was sleeping in Tamila's room (long story involving Travis...what else is new?) when I woke up at 4 am to the whole house thundering with rain. I could literally feel the walls of the house vibrate with the force of the water coming down. Since there had been a tornado warning earlier that night I ran to the back of the house to look through our sliding glass doors and check it out. Peering out the window all I could see was a huge white sheet of water coming down...even the streetlights weren't visible. By the time I woke up Tamila (she was on the couch) to look at it the microburst was over. I was the only one in my house to witness the incredible strength of the storm and while everyone else slept blissfully unaware. That left me with two thoughts...Number one: It was a cool experience that I'm glad I got to see. As for the second: Once again, I am reminded that my family would be useless for any midnight emergency...they'd all sleep through it. Guess somebody's got to save the world while it sleeps...that'd be me!


Thursday, January 24, 2008


*Gross Content Warning: Read at your own risk.*

Travis has the virus du jour. Sniffling, sneezing and coughing--the poor guy has all the classic symptoms. But with him, the only thing classic about the symptoms are the names...he manages to turn each and everyone into a dramatic scene. When he sneezes he tries to hold it back. He's always been that way. His face scrunches up, turns red and his head shakes as if it were a volcano on the verge of erupting. Finally, the sneeze wins, but with a ferocious growling barking sound thats unbelievable--try to imagine an old man having a sneezing fit...on steroids.

Last night he started holding the sneezes back again so we had to give him sneezing lessons. (Who would of thought you'd ever have to teach a kid to sneeze?) By the end of the evening, he was Fifty/Fifty for successful sneezes. He then developed coughing/barking fits on and off last night along with a 102 degree fever. (Another Travis symptom: his coughs are always loud & croupy). This morning he woke up all puffy eyed and sad looking...the kid was miserable. I placed him on the couch, gave him a cup of juice and turned on his favorite cartoon.

He was least until I heard this sound: "SPLAT!". I turned around to see that he had sneezed and all the snot he had been holding back for the last 24 hours had gone flying out his nose, down his stomach, onto the floor into a 2 inch gooey yellow pile. Gross. Within seconds of expelling the disgusting mass of slime, he was back to his old self running around the house thinking of new ways of destroy things. As for me, I pulled out the Clorox wipes and proceeded to gag as I cleaned up his detritus. His fever is gone along with the sneezing. He's still coughing occasionally...amazing really.

I think the kid should of been stamped with a warning when he was born: "Warning, this child is prone to explosions: Explosions of energy, voice, flatulence and snot. Proceed with caution". Maybe the label was there but I couldn't read it because I was distracted by his sweet mischevious smile and good hair.

Gotta love my kid...he's too cute. I just have to make sure the Purell is always close at hand.


Why So Many Blogs Today?

The reason in two words: Jury Duty. I am sitting in the Jury Holding Room on the third floor of the California Superior Courthouse in downtown Santa Ana. So far there have been three sets of jurors called to go to court rooms and I would say that there are less than 50 of us left. There were probably 300 people here when the day started.

Last time I was here I was called in to a court room at about this time of day. We were then dismissed for lunch. After lunch they went through about 40 people to seat 11 jurors. At 4:30 that afternoon the 12th juror was picked and the 5 of us that were still prospective jurors were allowed to go home.

Who knows what will happen today.


MLK Day on the Baseball Field

For the last three years we have spent just about every three day weekend at a baseball tournament with Austin. What usually happens is we may get to see a game on Saturday depending on the time and a game on Sunday depending on the time. On Monday we all end up going together and watching at least one game.

Every tournament and weekend is different based on the team's initial seeding and how the team does in its first and second game. Austin would not be able to attend a lot of these if not for other parents on the team that take him to games while Laurel and I are at the church. I know we both appreciate their willingness to do so.

This past weekend he played in Pomona and Riverside. On Monday he was at Big Field Dreams in Riverside. When we arived there Travis smelled cows. He said they stink. He then stated in a very irritated manner "They hurt my feelings!"

The nice part of this park is that the kids can play at a nice playground that is right next to the field that Austin was playing at. This allows us to keep one eye on the other boys and one eye on the game. Usually Tamila is with us an helps to take care of the boys, but on Monday she spent her day with her friend Annie.

The boys had a great time playing with their "baseball friends". These are the brothers and sisters of Austin's teammates that are usually at all of the tournaments as well. The baseball wasn't as fun. The boy's 4 game record for the weekend was 0-2-1. Unfortunately in some tournaments there actually is tying in baseball.

I love the fact that it is the middle of January and it is warm enough to have a baseball game where we live. I couldn't live in a place where baseball season was only six months.

Until the next tournament.


Austin is 14!

My first born is 14 today. I am so happy to see him grow up into an independent, smart, athletic, thoughtful, helpful young man. Laurel and I have always called him our "experiment". We have learned a lot about parenting because of him. It is amazing how much of what we did as parents early on was instinctive. Well so far so good.

I can only hope and pray that his life continues to be as blessed as it has for the last fourteen years. I can only hope and pray that he will continue to be a blessing to us as parents and all of those that he is connected with.

Happy Birthday kid!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Didn't Do That When I Was in School

These are a couple of pictures of Tamila, my only daughter. She is 12 and in the 6th grade. The other picture is of her project for Social Studies. Yes, it is a sarcophagus. If you do not know what that is follow the link, (I want my blog to be educational.)

She has been studying other cultures and this was a project that helped her learn about ancient Egypt. Did you notice the cute "mummy shaped" wrapping in the box? That is what the project was really about. They studied the process of mummification and then were asked to "mummify" something. What is inside the "mummy wrap" you ask? An uncooked chicken leg, that was packed in salt and placed in baggies to preserve them. The class did this back in November. Currently, it is sitting on our coffee table as of the date of this writing.

Isn't that gross? I didn't do that when I was in school.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why I Enjoy Sports

I love to watch sports. I love the competitive spirit, the stories within the game, and ultimately the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." I didn't expect the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers to be that great of a game. I watched that one half-heartedly expecting the Patriots to win which they did. I was hoping that the NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants would be more competitive. It was.

The underlying story was that of the aged veteran Brett Favre vs. Peyton's little brother, Eli Manning playing on a frozen field in Green Bay. One career is fading and the other is on the precipice of greatness. I would have been happy with either team winning. If Green Bay had won, it would be a great way for Brett Favre to end his Hall of Fame career. If New York had won, it would have allowed Eli to step away from his brother's shadow and compete in a Super Bowl after a few disappointing seasons. Ultimately, the Giants won and the Super Bowl is set. The Patriots against the Giants in Phoenix.

I love watching a hard fought, back and forth game. The game went into overtime but the Giants could have won it earlier except for a couple of bad field goal attempts and several dropped passes. I hope the Super Bowl is not a let down. So often the league championships are more fun to watch. I hope Eli and the Giants can beat the Patriots.

I always shed a little tear after a game like this. I also cry at Hallmark commercials. I know a lot of people are jaded about professional athletes and all of the money they make, but I don't blame them for accepting the money the owners are willing to pay them. At the end of the day, they play for an opportunity to compete in the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals or whatever the pinnacle of their sport is.

When I see the joy on the faces of the athletes that get to go to the Super Bowl I immediately think of all the practices they went to as kids. I think of their parents and the time that was committed to tournaments, training, and getting better at their game. All of the hard work has now paid off for them as they get to compete in the ultimate championship. Many professional athletes will work just as hard and never get a chance to compete at that level.

When I see those who experienced the "agony of defeat" I think of all the times when as kids they lost, struck out, gave up a home run, threw an interception, or fumbled the football. I hope all them got a hug from their parents, learned from their experience, and made a commitment to compete again the next time. Learning to win with grace and lose with integrity is a lesson I know Austin has had to learn playing baseball. I know it is a lesson that will help him no matter what he ends up doing.

By the way I am rooting for the underdog. Go Giants!

Good Bye Sports Fans

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Singing, Staph Infections and Kids Who Won't Sleep

So we all made it through the weekend. I was the worship leader this last weekend, so that usually adds a little extra stress, but it seems to be getting easier to take my production hat off and focus on leading the congregation in worship. As usual Austin and his buddy Steven helped me get ready before the rest of the crew and musicians arrived.

Laurel wasn't feeling too hot. She was weak and achy. I'm thinking: Here comes the flu. Saturday night after church she shows me what looks like a bug bite or scratch and makes a note of how big the welt is. The welt is bigger the next morning and there are red streaks making their way up her arm. While we were at church, she and Austin went to the urgent care and they found out that she has a staph infection. The doctor placed her on antibiotics and she has been really tired, but is getting better.

Speaking of tired here are a few other reasons why we might be tired. A couple of times during the last couple of weeks Travis has been waking us up crying hysterically. He will cry inconsolably for 30 minutes before he falls back to sleep. It is as if he is still asleep while he cries. He then is very sensitive to any motion or sound the rest of the night. That is always a lot of fun.

When Travis has a nice it seems like Austin and/or Tamila have homework late into the night. It drives me crazy. They get so tired that they do not think straight and are not productive. A couple of times I have sent them to bed and have them get up around 5:30 am to finish. It seems mean, but they can finish in 45 minutes what they had spent two hours on the night before. With four kids at home Laurel and cherish our time decompressing once the kids go to bed. It used to be we could send them to be around 8:30. Those days are gone.

Enough rambling for now.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The End of the Trail

For those of you who know Travis this picture may surprise you. It is a rare day when anyone outside the family sees him in this state. He had been going at full speed all day. He had preschool in the morning, helped Laurel with some errands and then came back to church to pick me up after vocal rehearsal. It made for a long day for the little guy.

In the fifteen minutes it took to get home he was out. It is almost as if he had a little switch that someone turned off. I brought him in from the car expecting him to wake up but he didn't. He sat like this for about a half hour and then I took him to bed.

I love to watch my kids sleep. Not because they are quiet and staying out of trouble, but because they look so peaceful. They sleep with no worries in total contentment. I can only hope that when I fall asleep I will look that peaceful.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Austin, a friend and Huckabee

A few months ago, Hope International University had a dinner at the Disneyland resort and the guest speaker was presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. I wasn't able to go, or maybe I did not want to go, but I thought it might be a good idea for Austin to go and hear him.

Austin has been interested in politics for quite some time, so I thought he would enjoy the evening. He regularly updates me with what is going on in the world. He knows more names of world leaders and their roles than I will ever know. He also knows more about the "war on terror" and what is going on in Iraq than I do as well. He is his mother's son when it comes to world news, politics and tidbits of information.

Long story short, Austin went with our good friend Kristi. She made sure that he behaved himself among a lot of adults. I told him to make sure and act like a gentleman. You know, getting the door for her and that kind of thing. He pulled it off with flying colors.

Austin thought Mike Huckabee did a good job, although he was skeptical at the time about his "staying power." I kid him and say that when he runs for president he can give the press this picture if Huckabee wins.

Friday, January 4, 2008

An Evening with Royal Prestige

My show in Anaheim finally ended at about 1:30 am this morning. It was about 2:15 before I left. Trace and I struck the stage and called it a night. These pictures are from my vantage point at the Front of House (FOH) mix position.

The client is a company called Royal Prestige. They are based out of Madison, Wisconsin. It amazes me that the majority of their sales force is Spanish speaking both here and throughout Latin America. The MC was a guy named Jim. He reminded me of my Dad. He was obviously not a native speaker of the Spanish language, but did a great job communicating and keeping the evening festive nonetheless.

Dinner began at 8:00 pm followed by speeches and awards from 9:00 pm until about 11:20. It reminded me of a Spanish language service growing up in Texas. It was a night that would not end. At 11:20 a comedian started his set which lasted just under an hour. At about 12:15 we started the musical portion of the evening which ended at 1:30. The musicians were a salsa band fronted by Johnny Polanco. Much to my surprise no one left even though they had been there for over four hours already.

It was basically a celebration of the last year for all of the territory directors and executives from the company. They raffled $100,000.00 dollars and gave away many awards for sales, company growth etc.

Some of you may know, that I am Mexican American. That is part of the reason I was at the show. It was in Spanish and I could understand it all. Having said that, I was proud to see how many of "my people" were making a living selling a product and working hard to earn, in some cases, a lot of money. I actually saw a company that knew how many dollars exist in certain areas of the Latino community and were making a concerted effort to tap into it. On the other hand I felt as if it was some kind of marketing scam going on.

The best part, or worst part, was when a guy from Oakland gets up and says in Spanish...

"Keep working, don't give up on your dreams. I am 28, have a beautiful family, have a $500,000 franchise, increased my sales by 163% and I am doing it all "sin papeles". 'Sin papeles' is Spanish for living in the United States without proper documents. On one hand I was glad he had found success in America without being on the public dole, but on the other hand the way he arrived in the United States is still illegal.

It is tough problem, but Mike Huckabee has the solution: Chuck Norris.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Another Day in Paradise

I am freelancing the rest of the week for my friend Trace. He owns Goodman Audio Services. I am working a corporate show with him in Anaheim/Garden Grove. We are at a Hyatt near Disneyland. The cool thing about this gig is that it is in Spanish, so I get to mix.

I am using the Yamaha M7CL which is an incredible sound board. I have only used it one other time, but I have the basics of it down. You may be saying "All aren't soundboards basically the same thing." Well, they are, but this one has a touch screen interface. On analog boards everything you need to do is right in front of you on the control surface. On a digital board like the M7 you have to know how you set up the board and then know which page or layer the controls that you need are. It does take longer to set up, but I am always amazed at how powerful the software that is controlling the sound board is. We used to have a rack full of "outboard gear" that had to be tied into the console. Now we have everything we used to use plus a whole lot more. It definitely will be keeping me on my toes.

While I was "at work" the kids had a lazy day recovering from their time in the mountains. Laurel attempted to take a nap while the kids played their wii and ran amok.

I will post some pictures of the event in my next post.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year, of Sorts

So the rest of New Year's eve I sat around with a sprained ankle. I twisted it while taking some of the pictures near the lake. While I was moving to take another picture, I stepped on a rock concealed beneath the snow. Next thing you know I am limping up the stairs. That started off the rest of the day.

Travis, my youngest son, has been coughing so, Laurel and Heidi ran into town and picked up some medicine that Dr. Gus called into the local CVS. We put the kids to bed early on New Year's Eve and then Travis proceeded to sleep for about 20 minutes before he began to sleep in a "hypersensitive" state all night. So much for watching the ball drop in Times Square.

I would move his blanket and he would begin to scream for 15 minutes because he was not cold, mind you the heater is not working because of a gas leak. I then gave him the "wrong" pillow. When I found the "right" pillow I had to flip it to the "correct" side. Continue this through the night until he finally wakes up his usual happy, chipper self. Needless to say New Year's Eve was not all that festive.

The pictures you see are what happens after being in the mountains for a couple of days without natural gas. (Tamila, my princess, took the pictures of the kids outside.) You do not realize how many different things you use throughout the day that require natural gas. It is missed when you do not have it. I did vow to take a cold shower this morning because it is my version of "a morning cup of coffee". To my surprise there was still enough hot water for a three minute shower. I then washed the morning dishes by warming up water in the microwave.

Through all of this we are having a good time, the kids are having fun and it is nice to relax with friends and family.

Happy New Year,

Billy and the Bakers