The Bakers’ 2007

Some of you may be receiving this year’s Christmas card a little late, perhaps even after Christmas Day. Well EXCUSE ME! We don’t all live in the Shangri-La world that many of you seem to inhabit with your home-baked meals, hair-free toilet rims, and lice-less scalps. The Baker family has to deal with real-life issues every day. How many of you had to calculate income taxes, defrag your computer or fly to Bermuda to try to prove your paternity this year? Oh yeah, you probably had your butlers do those things for you. There are plenty of reasons that this year’s card is a little late, probably none that you elitists would truly understand, but let’s just say that my support system is a little bit lacking. Laurie knows that I don’t begin writing this letter on an empty stomach and I rely on her to bring me my customary meal of sandwich, stack of Saltines and Diet Tab before I get started. The woman for some reason has forgotten how to properly remove the sandwich crust and cut the thing into decent enough triangles, so I had to send back a couple dozen of her ‘attempts’ before I was somewhat satisfied. After awhile I just checked into the Holiday Inn for a few days out of frustration until she sent over a picture of one that she got right.

As usual, the disappointments started with the kids. In January Alex was given an assignment in pre-school to find the United States on a world map that he brought home. Laurie and I have been trying to teach him to ‘think big’, so I suggested that he go the extra mile and also indicate on the map the exact coordinates of the hiding spot of al Qaeda’s number 2 in command Ayman al-Zawahri. He seemed to be on board with the idea – he was watching a lot of al Jazeera and I found a ‘teach yourself Pashto and Arabic’ website for him – but by midnight that night he just laid down on the couch and said he couldn’t figure it out. You can imagine our anger – Laurie had already bought airfare for him to Afghanistan because we figured he’d need a little time in the field to test out some hypotheses. Now I’m stuck with a GPS locator that I don’t really need and a boy who’s just a quitter.

In March both sets of in-laws set up camp in our house for our annual Hungry Hungry Hippo challenge that pits the families against each other in a 3 day mega-match. We usually go all out – we watch some Mutual of Omaha shows on hippos in the wild and then arm wrestle to see which family gets the purple Lizzie hippo. I thought my family had it in the bag: I was more than pulling my weight in the finals but then my sister blew it by breaking the lever on her Henry Hippo and there was no way I could beat two hippos by myself. Laurie’s family was really rubbing it in after they won – her mom even held down my niece and wrote ‘LOSER’ on her forehead with a permanent marker and then shaved one of her eyebrows off. I acted upset about it, but to be honest I probably would have done it to her myself anyway after watching her average less than 3 marbles per chomp over the weekend.

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   Show her you love her with diamonds. Because every kiss begins with Kay.
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Sorry for sticking an advertisement in the middle of the letter but this printer ink doesn’t pay for itself.

Laurie and I started to worry in May that Meredith was almost one year old and still wasn’t potty trained. She didn’t show any initiative and almost seemed like she didn’t even care. I tried some of the standard methods, like waiting until she had an accident and then sticking her nose in it and screaming ‘No’ really loud in her ear, or smacking her across the nose with a newspaper, but it was like I was wasting my time. Emily wasn’t helping because she totally refused to clean any of it up, even after I laid some M&Ms by one of the accident spots to encourage her. We finally sent Meredith away to live with an out-of-state cousin for a couple of months so she could get her head on straight.

We decided to live large this summer and take a nice family vacation. I didn’t want to get caught up in the commercial trap that they call Disney or risk getting cholera in one of those water slide parks, so we decided to go the extra mile and head to Elmfest. We’ve been there before but I decided to take a new route this year to see if we could save some time. Usually we head east on St. Charles Road and then go north on Prospect until we get to the ‘Fest, but this year I decided to take some of the side roads until I hit Mabel and then head east from there. We probably shaved off at least 30 seconds on the trip – the look on the kids’ faces was priceless when we told them we were there already. Things soured pretty quickly though when Laurie totally got into it with the carnie chick working the fishing game because she wouldn’t let us use our own fishing gear with live bait. I just told everyone to get back in the car because the Baker vacation was officially over. Emily was probably most upset since she’d been practicing her duck pond moves for a couple of hours each day since the beginning of summer and felt that I was ruining her big opportunity. I just told her that for every Dorothy Hamill there’s also a Nancy Kerrigan and sometimes your dreams just get dashed and to get over it. What a crybaby.

Fall was devastating to Laurie and me, as we finally submitted our script to the Elmhurst Community Theater for a 2-person musical version of Beverly Hills Cop. Laurie planned on playing the Eddie Murphy parts and I would handle the Judge Reinhold parts that required more acting chops, but they refused us because they thought that we’d have trouble getting permits for the live ammo and we weren’t about to compromise our artistic vision by dropping the live car chase. Laurie spent just about the last 3 months under her covers and still will only respond when I address her as Axel Foley. This podunk town has just about devoured our souls.

I’m sure that you’re having a fantastic year with lots of winning lottery tickets and great breath. Congratulations and we’re genuinely happy for you.

Merry Christmas to You and Yours from Us and Ours!!!

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