The Bakers’ 2009

Crap I’m tired. My fatigue level this year is probably higher than it’s ever been – I can barely ring my bell to let Laurie know that I need a mug refilled with Swiss Miss. It’s probably difficult for any of you reading this letter to really identify, because I work so much harder than pretty much anyone I know, which includes all of you.   Putting in long hours behind the laptop, shoveling snow, making conversation with my kids, managing my fantasy lineups, filling my car with gas, sanding down toe calluses, you name it…I pretty much have to do it all. That’s why I was so disheartened when I looked at the calendar and saw that Christmas was almost here and I’d have to write the annual letter to all of our groupies to let them know what we’ve been doing. I know exactly how Tiger feels with people trying to follow your every move (seems like our lives mirror each other’s in so many ways).

Speaking of which, Laurie and I had maybe our biggest blow-out fight yet in February. She was already annoyed with me because she hates it when I practice my nun-chucks indoors, and I was already annoyed with her because she has the worst breath after all those Funyuns. Things escalated when I asked her to pick up some hair gel for me at Dominick’s and she came home with a bottle of LA Looks Mega Hold. We’ve been married for 10 years and she knows that I use Sport Hold – I have NEVER used Mega or Ultra hold. I’m a jock – she knows this, and I proved it several times by beating her in a sprint race down our block. Needless to say, I needed to get away for awhile. She blew her top after I took off for two weeks and didn’t call or email about my whereabouts. I think my absence would have been fine with her but she was really bothered when I told her I had taken off to hike the Appalachian Trail. She claims that it’s always been a dream of hers that we’d do that as a family. Whatever.

In April Emily took some initiative and made some suggestions for how we might be more efficient with our trash on Wednesday mornings. I usually like to get the recycling barrel out on Tuesday evenings in case the truck comes early in the morning, and then wheel out the trash bin on Wednesday at around 7:30 AM since the trash guys don’t come until the afternoon. Things get a little hectic around April because the lawn waste pickups start, and it gets really difficult to try and keep everything straight in my head, especially during the weeks where we also have to worry about getting any fallen branches gathered up, bound, and placed by the curb (I’m getting flustered just having to type about all of this – imagine how I feel when I’m in the trenches and having to process this stuff in real-time). Emily pointed out that I was losing a lot of time by not making all of my trips to the curb at the same time – I was spending unnecessary time putting on my shoes for each separate trip, scheduling separate appointments in my Outlook calendar, and emailing Laurie with my whereabouts. I’m not usually open to any advice from my kids, but I remember thinking to myself: ‘this hare-brained scheme of hers is so crazy it just might work’. I thought that if I could consolidate all of this into a single trip outside on Tuesday nights that I might have more time on Wednesday mornings to focus on making sure all of my back hair was plucked. Well, little miss genius didn’t count on the possibility of high winds in the middle of the night. I came out on Wednesday morning to find lawn clipping spilled all over the curb, trash scattered down our street and Laurie sobbing by the front window. Laurie was totally crushed and wouldn’t come out of the Panic Room for a couple of days. Even more infuriating, I was over 15 minutes late to work that day. After I had cooled off I sat down & did the math, and I think she totally messed up her calcs on how much time I would have saved anyway – I don’t know how she sold me on the premise that it could gain me 90 extra minutes in the morning. I’ll never to encourage Emily to think creatively again. What a loser.

We signed Meredith up for dance lessons in June shortly after her 3rd birthday, but Laurie and I weren’t too happy with the instruction she was getting. The class was supposed to teach ballet and tap, but after two lessons she was completely clueless when I asked her to show me a Cincinnati Flam, a Double Toe Maxie Ford or even a Battement Frappé. I let the teacher know what I thought of her competence while Laurie keyed her car, so at least maybe some other kids will benefit if she tries to improve her methods. Laurie and I started working with her at home on some steps – Laurie primarily on the ballet stuff while I instructed the soft-toe and interpretive dance genres – which was a very fond experience for both of us (for me it really brought back some forgotten memories of my auditions at Juilliard). We really got into it as a family and choreographed some routines for her that had some real pizzazz – even Alex and Emily wanted in on the act. We practiced through most of the summer and by July I were ready to send a few demo tapes of all of us to Letterman, but I hear that sometimes it can take up to a year before they get back to you. In the meantime we’re hoping to do some ‘in the park’ performances and contribute to the community with our talent. Our main concern is that the kids’ classmates see them and are jealous of their dance talent – regardless of how much my kids annoy me, I don’t want them to have to go through what I went through as a prodigy.

Alex started 2nd grade in September and was promptly brainwashed by all of the eco-freaks at his school.  He saw me throwing a Pepsi can into the regular trash can and told me that I needed learn the three Rs  of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.  That really ticked me off. After I belted him for awhile I decided that he needed a stronger lesson, so I reduced the food on his dinner plate, forced him to reuse the same piece of toilet paper whenever he dropped anchor and made him recycle the same pair of underwear, all for a solid week so he’d learn his lesson. To really drive the point home I turned on all of our light bulbs and faucets and left them on for the entire week. Then I made him pour a couple of quarts of motor oil over a squirrel that I caught in the front yard. Finally I bought a seal from an exotic pets dealer and clubbed it in our driveway and made him watch. Laurie thought that the seal clubbing was taking it a little too far but deep down I think she agreed with my methods – she was just hacked off about having to clean up the driveway since Alex was in shock and couldn’t wash things down himself. Anyway, Alex hasn’t said anything about my Pepsi cans since then, so that just goes to show that sometimes you have to go the extra mile if you want to be a good parent.


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