It was a windy Saturday afternoon, and Angela Baker was readying for a photo shoot with her kids, Zach, 14, and Kelsey, 12.|
Kelsey was seated on the arm of the couch in the family's Moline home, a typical no-no. Ms. Baker was next to her on a cushion, and Zach was trying his best to look natural while seated on the floor.
Typically, the Baker living room doesn't serve as a photo studio. Rather, it's a place where the family spends time together, has game nights nearly every Friday night, and plays with their pups, Britti and Buddy.
"We do a lot together," Ms. Baker said.
Ms. Baker is a pretty busy woman. When she isn't at her day job at John Deere, she's playing other roles, including cheerleader, chauffeur, cook, trip planner, volunteer, this year's Multiple Sclerosis Walk ambassador, school trip chaperone, party host and planner and more.
Her roles in her children's lives and the community are what earned her the title of 2013 Most Magnificent Mom of the Quad-Cities.
More than 40 area moms were nominated in the contest, run by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Six finalists were chosen by the newspapers, and readers voted for their favorite.
After the hundreds of mailed and emailed votes were tallied, Ms. Baker emerged victorious. The other finalists were Betty Blaser, of Rock Island; Sara Tubbs, of Moline; JoBeth Ethington, of Rock Island; Mary Bowker, of Rock Island; and Ellen McFate, of Bettendorf.
"I'm pretty honored," Ms. Baker said.
It was exciting not only because "Kelsey thinks those things, but actually took the time to write them down," she said. "I had no idea (I was being nominated) at all."
But Kelsey and Zach didn't seem surprised.
"I thought she really needed a spa day. She really deserves it for everything she does for us," Kelsey said.
Zach agreed and was happy his sister decided to nominate their mom. "She does so much for us," he said, like making dinners, doing laundry, giving rides, "the little things that make up the big picture."
Kelsey said writing the letter took a little time and a lot of brainstorming.When word came that her mother was selected as a finalist, she handed her iPad to her mom to show her the email.
"I was really surprised," Ms. Baker said. "Excited, and honored."
"I try to be...the best mom I can be," she said, adding that a lot of moms out there do the same thing. "I had a great role model," she said.
And "we have great kids."
Kelsey said her mom has become a "super fan" of everything she and her brother do. Whether it's at Kelsey's softball games or Zach's tennis matches, "it's not hard to find you in the stands," Kelsey said, raising her arms to mock her mother's cheers.
The family loves vacationing together, anywhere with a beach, Ms. Baker said. They have family dinners often and family game nights, and Kelsey and Ms. Baker have girl time baking, gardening and doing each other's nails.
Today, the family plans to go to church, come home and have dad, Rick Baker, cook for everyone.
Kelsey wrote that her mom is kind, caring, loving, thoughtful, fun, motherly, active, beautiful.
"My mom is a wonderful woman," she wrote. "I hope my mom is chosen to be the 'Most Magnificent Mom,' because that is what she is to me!"
Angela's tips on how to be a magnificent mom
-- "Stay really tuned-in to your kids. Listen."
-- "Pay a lot of attention to detail," she said, and pay attention to what they like.
-- "Go to as many things as you can" that your kids are in, she said. "It goes so quickly," and the programs and sports kids participate in "are so short-lived."
-- "Balance work and life." When she's home, she says, she "shuts off work completely," and becomes engaged with the family.
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