LOS ANGELES -- When school is out and the kids are in town, every day is Father's Day for Rod Barajas.
It's noisy, and no one sleeps late, but it's still sweet music to Barajas, the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher who lives for moments like these.
He and his wife Stacie are parents to six children -- Andrew, 15; Bryce, 10; Aunalilia, 9; Rod Jr., 6; Jace, 5, and Aubrielle 3 so mornings are bound to be chaotic. Yet Barajas, whose summers are full of late nights and long road trips, loves the activity.
Having them together will make this Father's Day extra special.
"I can't remember a Father's Day where we had all six of them together," he said. "This might be the first one. It's going to be neat, not just having my kids around, but my dad and my brother and his kids too all of us together."
When you play baseball for a living, holidays and special occasions are sometimes forfeited for games. Barajas' big-league career has taken him to Arizona, Texas, Philadelphia, Toronto and New York, but for the first time, he's playing for his hometown team.
He and Stacie make their offseason home in Del Mar, but with school out for summer, she and the kids have moved to La Crescenta, where Barajas is residing this season. So after Sunday's game, they'll gather with relatives for a family barbeque a rare treat for Barajas.
"It doesn't happen very often," he said. "This is the one year when I'll get to have all the important people in my life around. You never know if that day is going to happen, so when it does, you're excited for it to finally come."
Family is important to Barajas. He grew up in Southern California and maintains a close relationship with his parents and brother. His father, Salvador, was one of 13 children; his mother was one of eight.
Having his kids around, even if it means waking up earlier than he'd prefer, makes Barajas feel complete.
"There's nothing Rod does better than being a dad," Stacie Barajas recently told Dodgers Magazine. "He loves the kids, loves spending time with them and loves making breakfast for them. The kids are him."
What makes it special for Barajas is that he finally can be home. At 35, he knows he's spent too many days away from his family.
"Waking up and seeing them after having played away from home for as long as I have, it doesn't happen very often," he said. "You maybe get a couple of months in the summer where they're around, but not as much as I've had already this year. It's nice finally being back home and spending that extra time that I've always missed out on with the kids."
It can be rough. Like all professional athletes with families, Barajas has missed big (and small) moments in his children's lives.
"It's tough, especially when they're little and starting to do new things," he said. "When they're starting to talk, starting to walk, the first day of school -- you miss a lot of those. I think last year was the first time I was able to take them for the first day of school. It's a price you have to pay for what we do for a living."
But there are also benefits for the kids. How many of their schoolmates have dads who play for the Dodgers? How many other kids get to make road trips or spend parts of their summers in New York or Toronto?
And this, too: "In the offseason they get to see a lot of me, which a lot of parents don't get to do. I'm around 247, and every free moment I have I spend with them. They're sad when I'm not around, but they know that when the season ends, they're going to get a whole bunch of me."
That's not a bad deal not for Barajas and certainly not for his kids.
"When you're used to waking up at 10 o'clock in the morning and you only have the TV to keep you entertained, it's a little depressing," he said. "But today, they woke up early, so now I've got six kids to entertain me.
"They make you smile. Every silly little thing they do is so much better than TV or anything you can do by yourself. It's definitely an exciting time."