Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Smith Kids

I thought it might be helpful to our huge following haha (thanks Cari and Kirby for tuning in)  to have a titch of information about the 4 Smith siblings that are involved in our challenge so here goes:

Dominica (Oldest Sibling) and her husband Ivar vanKoten.  As the eldest Dominica fits the part. She is the sibling who fled the home state built a solid career and is a highly successful big wig in the federal government. They live in DC and when the challenge was first presented to her she said "what no tv, but that is all that we do!"

Veronica (2nd oldest Child)  The crazy BRAIN behind the blog and no tv challenge!  You have read all about me if you have read the blog.  I live with my husband and three small children in a small rural town in West Michigan.

Rebel Smith (3rd oldest and only son).  He and his wife Leslie live in fremont MI and are both school teachers.  When the idea was presented to them thankfully Rebel said that is "an awesome idea we are gonna be famous!!!"  thanks to him for encouraging us to push on with this idea

Miranda (youngest) and her husband Mark Daniels.  The Daniels have 2 young sons and live in a small town in Michigan a couple of hours away from the rest of us.  Miranda gets sole credit for the blog being ALIVE in time for the new year as she took the time to set it up!  YOU ROCK GIRL!  Miranda is already hard at work training for the challenge (yes she has already been turning the tv off even when her two year old begs her for Sesame Street!

posted by V Constantine 12-31-10

TV Statistics

Food for thought:
-According to the A.C. Nielsen Co. the average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day (that's more than 52 days of nonstop TV-watching per year). (For my family it was actually about 1.5 times that number which is quite alarming)

-By the age of 65 the average American will have spent nearly nine years glued to the tube.  (Can you believe it 9 whole years watching television.  This statistic alone, totally sold me on my crazy idea to kick the tv to the curb)

-Parents spend 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.  (with young kids I think this is debatable, we spend a lot more time talking to kids to teach them the basic rules etc, but still I am convinced we were not spending enough time focused on our family)

Our stats...The Constantines had our tv on for 4-5 hours per day on average in 2010 although we were oftentimes doing other things (making puzzles, folding laundry, reading books etc) I am convinced that the television is having a negative impact on our interactions and on my young children gengeral.  2011 is an opportunity to test out my theories and to accomplish my goals related to this challenge which are three fold: get our house more organized and clean (and implement rules to maintain this), spend more time effectively communicating with my husband and children, and form healthier life habits although we are fairly healthy there is always room for improvement!  Oh yeah and I want to kick my brother and sister's butts on this fun little sibling rivalry challenge.  Game on!

Brain Background-Running for a Reason

Running For A Reason  Written Spring 2008

There will never be an article written about how fast I am or an article reporting me as a winner in a 5K race.  I am not fast; and by most people’s standards I am not a winner.  But what I lack in speed, I make up for with passion!  I love to run and while I never manage to cross the finish line first, I always cross it without having stopped or walked.  For me, each time I do this is a victory.  I think there are others who probably share my sentiments and fall into this same category; we are runners, but we are not racers.  Our goal is not to finish first, but rather to finish and to improve over time.

However, this past year I have faced an unusual medical condition that proved to be my greatest challenge ever; It has been far more difficult than even the most challenging 5K route. I had hydrocephalus and as a result had to have brain surgery in January 2007.  I know it sounds like a bad episode on a soap opera, but for me this is reality; it is my life.  On January 12, 2007 I sat quietly, and as calmly as possible, while a neurosurgeon drilled a hole in my head to release the pressure caused by the hydrocephalus.  Hydrocephalus, for those of you who do not know (which was the category I fell into before this happened to me), is a condition where too much cerebral spinal fluid builds up in someone’s brain and as a result the intracranial pressure within the person’s head increases to dangerous levels. It is usually caused by a brain tumor, head trauma or infections of the brain, such as meningitis or encephalitis.  The bizarre twist in my case was that I had experienced none of these. To date, the doctors still have no explanation as to why I got so sick.  I woke up on January 11th feeling normal, went to work, and developed a terrible headache which only worsened as the day went on despite my consumption of more than the recommended dosage of Excedrin. By that night I found myself at the emergency room getting a CAT scan.  Because of the rarity of my case, I was not diagnosed and treated until the following evening when I found myself with the surgeon and the drill. The drill procedure was only a temporary fix and on January 15th I underwent a second surgery that placed a permanent ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt within my body. The VP shunt works as a bypass, rerouting the fluid from my brain to my abdominal cavity where my body naturally reabsorbs the excess fluid.  The recovery from this has been far more difficult than any race I have ever completed.  I won’t get into too many details other than to say that I went from a confident, active, individual who ran or walked almost every day to an individual who struggled to get out of a bed by herself and had to call on her family to help with even the most simple of tasks. 

I will skip past the details of the tough in between months where I was feeling better, but not anywhere near normal.  These were the times when I would over do it and find myself in terrible pain.  I will skip past these times and move on to my victory!  My win.  On June 30th after over 5 months of recovery and just 6 weeks of training, I ran the Reeds Lake 5K run in East Grand Rapids, Michigan!  I remember thinking to myself that morning, “Am I ready?” “What if I don’t finish?” I was so unsure of myself going into the race.  Just as before my surgery, I didn’t win and I was not fast compared to many of the other runners, but I finished and I didn’t stop or walk.  A victory for me!  Not only did I finish my first 5K since the surgery, but I finished with a respectable time of 27:44 which was a personal record at the time!  I was ecstatic and so happy that I cried later that day when I realized what I had accomplished and just how far I had come. 

Looking back on 2007, I reminisce about the tough times and the challenges, I celebrate each victory, no matter how small, and I find that still have the passion to run. Any extra passion and energy that I have these days goes toward fund raising efforts for STARS-kids, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works to financially support research into hydrocephalus and VP shunt technology! I have already raised over $12,500. If anyone is interesting in more information about any of my events such as the upcoming 1st Annual West Michigan STARS-kids Walkathon October 25 at 9AM at the Grand River Sailing Clubhouse at 219 North Harbor Drive Grand Haven, MI or donating to the cause please contact me at 616-837-6242 today!   

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Getting Nervous

Okay so now I am getting a bit nervous.  I managed to talk all of my siblings into this crazy idea of mine and I just hope that it works and that I dont cave in and tune into Ellen or House first thing on Monday.  They are two of my personal favorites.  Adios Wheel of Fortune I shall miss you. Bon Voyage Fringe I hope that you get back to your normal life, Olivia.  Chin up Veronica if I can finish my first ever marathon in 209.04 I can certainly handle this little TV challenge.  Veronica Constantine!

No TV Dream!

Okay so my brain nearly exploded almost exactly four years ago (January 11th is my surgery versary).  No I am not kidding. I know it sounds like a made up story, but I can assure you it is very true. I developed severe unexplained hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and had to have emergency surgery to eleviate the pressure.  I now lead a fairly normal life thanks to my VP shunt.  I will post the story of my brain for anyone who wants more detailed background information and feel free to post any questions you have about this condition as I have become a bit of a self  proclaimed expert on it.  The point to all this is that since then I have been feeling restless like I need to do something a little crazy and make some major life changes so I have been doing so  slowly (so as not to lose my husband in the process since he is all about maintaining the status quo and he does not like change) although for me the changes have come all too slowly. In October 2009, I finally quit my job (which was a promise I made myself in the hospital bed some four years ago) I now stay home with our three young children at the time they were 3.5, 1.5 and a newborn.  This was a major change since I had always been the bread winner and my job as the Animal Shelter Director had always defined me.  Well quitting the job helped with the restless feeling and having 3 kids to care for helped fill my days and ease the restless feeling as well but it was (and is) still there lingering and causing me a lot of heart ache so a few months ago I started to brainstorm (yes with my faulty brain) but alas this dream was born to eliminate television from our home.  TV had become such a crutch for us an easy way to just do nothing meaningful as a family in the evenings so although my husband is not totally on board (he has been given an alotment for sports tv) we are moving forward with this crazy idea of mine and hopefully this will help to ease my restlessness.  Special thanks to my siblings for coming along on this journey and to Miranda for making this blog as I had not found time to mess with it while caring for my kids.  Stay Tuned for our television free adventures in 2011!~

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Started

So my crazy sis came up with a plan to stop watching TV for the 2011 year.  She wants me and my 3 siblings to take part.  Her idea is that we will all be healthier and more productive people.  So I have decided to be on board, even if I am the only one that goes through with it. 

ok so the rest of you better get on here, I will be back shortly to answer some of the questions from the rule sheet...