Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've decided

I have decided what I am going to do in 2012!  I am going to run, read and otherwise live in my bath tub.  Now I realize this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out on this one; I promise it will make sense in the end.

Now in 2011, I logged over 800 miles, ran my first marathon and did my first mini-streak (not running around naked, but running (so far 26) consecutive days in a row) so I think it is safe to say that I will be running in 2012 in some form or another, but definitely not naked. 

I also read 30 books of at least 200 pages in length and since I plan to significantly limited the use of our television, it seems safe to say I will still be reading in 2012.  Plus I am a member of the Dysfunctional Book Club (The DBC) which happens to be the coolest Book Club this side of the Rockies. Yet  again another great reason to keep reading.  I think I shall!

The bath tub part is where things get interesting and where explanation is probably warranted.  You see up until last night the new bath tub was just a theory.  In theory, it was going to be incredible to soak in it and relax my worries away, but last night my theory became reality.  My worries were soaked away one powerful jet at a time.  I took my first bath in the new tub and not even three screaming, overly excited, out-of-control children could dampen my mood; it was AWESOME!  I was able to get a full body massage while relaxing in piping hot water for about forty five minutes.  This new tub seriously is like a hot tub in so many ways.  I guess that is why it cost about as much at a hot tub, but it was worth every penny.  Every single penny.  I LOVE it and I may never find need to wander out of the bathroom now that I have access to this.  I have a large enough ledge all the way around it to support wine, cheese and crackers so even food will not be an issue.

So I'll say it again.  I've decided what 2012 will bring: running, reading and a year long vacation in my bath tub!  And this is one group of decisions that I feel great about making.  Unlike so many other choices I have made in 2011 (paint color, carpet, tile, linoleum, toilets, counter tops, cupboards, light fixtures) You get the idea.  I made a ton of decisions most of which I felt completely unqualified to make and not the least bit confident making.  There is no indecision or doubt in my mind about my 2012 decisions!  With hope, luck and a little help from the man upstairs (okay maybe a lot of help if we are being completely honest) I will see to it that these become my reality!

Happy (almost) New Year, 2012!!

Vern Out

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What's next?

With the year of NOTV drawing to an end, people are probably wondering what's next?  I am wondering too so if you have any ideas please send us comments or suggestions.  I have a few things figured out, but I am still making plans for 2012 so please share your thoughts. 

The first thing this little NOTV experiment did for me was to raise awareness and educate me.  I am now much more aware of television time.  I also learned that I much prefer life without television to life with it and I learned that my husband feels completely the opposite.  He has been missing the television terribly for months now and if not for my complete, unwavering,  insistence that we continue without it, he would have caved long ago. 

This much is for certain, during the day when Mommy is in charge, we will continue to live without television.  Another certainty is that there will be one minor exception to this: If I happen to have the house cleaned, dinner finished, the kids otherwise occupied and it is four in the afternoon, Ellen will be airing in our house and I will be watching it.  Ellen I have missed you so terribly and I can't wait for the first time that I get to tune in and shake it with you!  Given the stipulations that I have placed on myself, it may be June or July before I get to watch, but I am a patient person so I will wait.  I also can't wait to see Kara strattle her little table mimicing Ellen.  That is the best! 

In the evenings, I feel a compromise will be critical since Jeff feels we should turn the television on for the entire evening and I would just assume leave it off altogether.  I think ground rules are going to be absolutely essential so I am in the process of creating some.  I will be gathering signatures from all family members as well thereby agreeing to follow the rules governing the television to avoid future arguments.  The most important rule is going to be that if the house is not picked up, the television will remain off. Given the kid's talents and abilities in the realm of mess making, this rule alone should eliminate a good portion of the television that would otherwise be watched at night.

I also have a confession to make.  The past couple of weeks I had been letting the kids watch videos while I drive us around.  It seemed like it was making my life easier since they would then ride quietly and happily while I ran holiday related errands.  As with most things in life, just because it seemed to make things easier, it didn't mean it was a good idea.  At first, the kids did great with this little arrangement; they were thrilled with the chance to watch shows, but they soon developed a sense of entitlement.  The entitlement led to anger and frustration whenever a show was not able to be shown in its entirety and the whole thing spun out of control quickly devolving into a big mess.  It was a bad decision on my part to do this in the first place and after a complete, ugly, out-of-control,  meltdown by Aven a few days ago I completely eradicated the process.  Movies will no longer be aired in our van unless we are driving for more than a couple of hours.

On a totally unrelated topic, The Thornbirds is an excellent book and I finished it in about a week.  It was my 30th book of the year!  I can honestly say that eliminating the television led me back to reading so I do feel strongly that NOTV has probably made me smarter, or at the very least, made me more well read.  My book club girls helped to broaden my horizons too without them I never would have read 1984 or Frankenstein.  Thanks guys!

2011 was the year of NOTV. I also ran my first marathon and worked to help design and build our new home.  2011 has been an incredible journey.  2012 is but a blank piece of paper awaiting my thoughts, insights and dreams to fill it up and provide it with direction and purpose.  Bring it 2012!!Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our faithful followers!

Vern Out

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas movie marathon

Last night we had all of the family (sans Dominica and Ivar) together for an overnight Christmas spectacular back where it all started-on the Smith family farm. For the occasion, we went all out and watched Christmas movies the whole night long; we watched Christmas Vacation, Christmas with the Kranks, Little House on the Prairie Christmas, A Smokey Mountain Christmas Babes in Toyland and a couple others.  It was great to have everyone together and watching Christmas movies did help to set the holiday tone, but I am utterly sick of television. 

Anyhow, we are now busy cleaning house and preparing for the annual Christmas Eve party with mom's side of the family.  One notable difference here is that the food is incredible;  I am no longer stuck living off whatever random leftover stuff is in our cupboards and freezers at home.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Vern Out

Monday, December 19, 2011


I broke down and bought a loaf of bread yesterday.  I was really in the mood for a grilled cheese and without bread that simply wasn't an option so I caved.  At least I didn't fill my cart with a bunch of impulse items like I usually do.  I was focused;  I got bread.  Anyhow, the grilled cheese was amazing. I even coupled it with a can of Tomato Soup so that another can has been eliminated from the pantry. And now we are living off cookies! 

Yesterday was my family's 13th Annual Holiday Cookie Day and so we have a LOT of cookies at our place.  We did indeed eat cookies and milk for breakfast.  I threw a peice of peanut butter toast into the mix so that there was something other than cookies involved in breakfast time, but to be honest the kids are not stupid and they ate cookies, not toast.  I really messed up by offering the cookies up front this morning, but I won't make the same mistake at lunch.  We may have cookies for lunch as well, but I have a few leftover crackers and slices of cheese at home so I will start with those with a glass of milk and switch over to cookies afterwards.  That will definitely be a balanced meal!

I also started reading January's bookclub selection, The Thornbirds and while it started kind of slow I am totally hooked.  I read for about three hours last night without realizing so much time had elapsed.  It is really getting good so this book will probably suffice as entertainment for the evenings this holiday season since the book is really long, but really good.  Iwill also likely be sleep deprived this holiday season since the book is so good that I have to make myself stop reading and go to bed.

I also finished day 16 of my holiday running streak this morning with a glorious six mile jaunt on the cross country trails. I would LOVE a white Christmas, but I will make the most of any situation so instead of sulking over the lack of snow, I am logging a bunch of miles while the trails are clear!

Other than that I did watch the last ten minutes of the Lion's game yesterday and amazingly it was worth it!  What an incredible comeback that was!  I am optimistic that Miranda, Rebel or Dominica might put a holiday update on here. That sure would be a great Christmas present.

Happy Holidays,
Vern Out

Friday, December 16, 2011

The crash

Just when I thought I was getting a handle on things, my sister goes and makes me look bad.  I tell you sisters are good for nothing.  Nothing.  Just kidding. I love my sisters. But Miranda did write an update on the blog which nearly caused a traffic accident and had that happened I would have been really mad!!! I'll explain. 

While visiting Santa at the library earlier today, I decided to try to get on the blog and do a quick update. I often attempt such ill advised stunts since we still do not have internet at home and the library is my gateway to modern society.  Anyhow, I really don't like our huge following (haha-we have 24 the last time I checked) to have to wait for more than a few days without some sort of story about our television free life.  So when I logged in to the blog, at first glance I thought I had made a mistake, or worse yet that I had completely forgotten about having written a creative update about the Daniel's family which given my state of mind at the time was completey within the realm of possibility. The opening post was entitled, "The Daniels".  I actually logged out and quickly logged back in with the same result so I decided to read it and try to figure out what was going on.  Miranda's unexpected update (seriously we hadn't heard from her in months)  really threw me for a loop.  It was pretty incredible, two full paragraphs in length, entertaining and she even complimented me.  Incredible.  Now if we could just hear from the Smiths and the vanKotens life would be AWESOME!

Well shortly after I read the post I discovered that my kids had disappeared so I had to investigate their whereabouts. I found Hazel unplugging the copy machine, Kara coloring a picture and Aven hanging out with his new BFF, Emily Kate (I think love may be in the air there).  I felt like such a horrible mother for providing such poor supervision that I spent the rest of my time completely involved with my kids which probably was a good thing all things considered.  I never got back to the blog until just now and this is only possible because I stole my in-laws aircard thingamagiggy so we have internet for the night! 

It really is like living in the stone ages at our place, no television, no internet, and our phone is getting switched to the new house soon so then we will be without that for a few days as well.  Also adding to the stone age allure at our home is the fact that I refuse to grocery shop until we move.  Hauling grocery into the house once is enough. I absolutely refuse to drag new stuff here to turn around and drag it to the new place in a couple weeks. I do buy milk, but other than that nada. As a result, dinner has been getting more and more comparable to the hunter gatherer meals of yesteryear.  It isn't pretty, but I figure if I refuse to shop it may motivate Jeff to try to push our move in plan along a little faster.  He seems to be in no particular hurry to move.  And I am ready to move.

I need to get back to the near car crash which happened shortly after leaving the library because I wasn't paying attention. My exuse. Well the update about the Daniels was so inspirational to me so that I found myself thinking about it as I drove and I was daydreaming about the whole NOTV thing and pondering how to get my book moving along again and I didn't notice a car that was stopping in front of us.  I nearly rear ended it.  Thank goodness I didn't after the garage incident Jeff would have been really unforgiving of such an accident. The rest of the day was uneventful other than the fact that I did get to take a nap with Aven for about and hour!  It was heavenly.

Hazel and I went to Sam's Club shopping tonight and upon return home found Jeff, Kara and Aven watching Charlie Brown.  Jeff is such a cheater.  We were gone less than two hours and he had to watch television.  Anyhow, I let it slide until the next commercial and then insisted the TV go off and the kids head to bed. 

Vern Out

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Daniels

First of all I am very surprised that the BAT was purchased for the constantine house! and it was pretty gutsy to post it up here, I have a feeling Jeff may know what he's getting for christmas ha ha  anyway yes here at the Daniels we are officially quitters, although we have cut back on TV we make no claim or attempt to give up TV completely.  Also, I will say that I think verns idea of having a sleepover in the new house is super-cool.  How cool to have santa visit the new house :)
Also wanted to let everyone know that I'm afraid I may be turning into mom.  Earlier tonight I explained to Kenny that if he doesn't brush his teeth every day that they will all rot and fall out of his head.  Oddly enough I found out why mom used to tell us such stories...kenny's eyes got real BIG then he ran to the bathroom to brush his teeth.  This incident happened only a couple hours after I was yelling at kenny for something and he was looking at me laughing uncontrollably (all you smith kids know what I mean)  anyway I suppose turning into mom isnt all bad anyway! One last note - we recently have acquired an super awesome hot tub which I think is a must have to give up TV...ok till next time - the daniels


One thing I never took much notice to until we gave up television is commercials.  I never really noticed them too much, but now that I have avoided television on the rare occasion that we watch TV I notice them a lot more.  I guess it's like anything you don't notice the details until your attention is drawn to them.  When I bought my Subaru, I suddenly noticed Subarus everywhere I went.  Prior to that purchase, I never noticed them at all.  They were still there on the roadways, I just didnt notice them until I had one myself.  I guess it is the same with commercials for many people.  As long as you are watching a lot of them, they just blurr together and no one really notices them too much.  Kind of makes me wonder why companies spend so much on television advertising, but that is a different topic for a different day.

Anyhow, there are a lot of commercials.  Way too many.  And most of them are about nonsense stuff too.  In the half hour of Frosty we watched last Friday, I bet there were at least 10 minutes of commercials. Ridiculous isn't it?  We dont have DVR either so we can not just fast forward them. At our house you are stuck with commercials. 

Back in our TV watching prime, I would generally use commercials to get chores done.  It is a very practical approach to commercials.  A whole lot of laundry and dishes have been done at our place during commercials so I guess they do serve that purpose.  Regardless of this purpose, while we watched Frosty and then last night as Jeff watched Sunday Night Football, I made an effort to take notice of commercials.  Here's what I found: 

A majority of commercials are about pharmaceuticals and most of the commercial time for pharmaceuticals is spent telling the consumer about the possible side effects of the drug.  Once I watch one of these commercials, I usually find myself swearing I will never try the drug because the side effects sound much worse than the condition being treated.  I also find myself wondering why drugs list both diahrrea and constipation as possible side effects for the same drug.  Seems odd, but I have to let some things go I suppose.  A few of the Christmas commercials are kind of cute, but I could live without them too.

The other commercials that are very popular especially during sporting events are beer commercials and I can admit that some of these are clever, but still shouldn't athletes frown upon beer consumption? Especially professionals.  I suppose commecials are not necessarily supported by the athletes.  I just wish that there were cool commercials about running gear or sports equipment.  That would be cool.  The Labatt ones where the people magically enter a tropical paradise immediatly upon opening the bottle are pretty cool.  Some days I wish I could simply open a beer bottle and find myself on a tropical beach without a worry in the world, but that is not reality.  And I will always be a fan of the Budweiser commercials that focus on the Clydesdales, but that is because I like the horses not the product itself.  Anyhow, after watching these two programs this weekend, I am committed to continuing living as we are TV free so it may end up being a lifestyle change instead of a year long experiment.  I find I am happier without television, much happier.

Vern Out

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Frosty the Snowman!

Last night we watched Frosty the Snowman as a family.  One half hour of television and the kids were so excited, you would have thought Santa already visited our home.  Maybe we should return all of the gifts. We all snuggled under blankets and watched the show, even our dog, Stan.  No one was running around or making messes because everyone was mesmerized by the holiday classic.

Anyhow, the kids were really well behaved all day yesterday so as a reward they earned the right to see it.  Call me a cheater if you must, but I think it was a good deal since I dragged them to the bank, grocery store, Grandma's office, post office, the aquatic center and to Pizza Hut for lunch yesterday and all three of the kids were really good the entire time.  You can't put a price on that, but if you must the cost to me is one half hour with the telly.

Now we are heading for some much needed quiet and relaxation time.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The strippers and lingerie were not nearly as effective as the table dancing bit.  I should have known the second time would not be as successful.  People were already on to me.  Anyhow, I am back at the library and Hazel is once again playing with toys and books not tables and electical outlets! We just built a seriously impressive roadway around the tables and now we are driving cars on them.  It is just about as good as the autobahn.

So I was talking to Miranda this morning making summer plans with her and she rather casually mentioned that they were watching Clifford on PBS and I made a comment about her cheating.  She swiftly corrected me and said, "I am not cheating because we quit NOTV".  Super bummed me out.  I guess I was delusional to think anyone else was still trying to live within the confines of NOTV2011 other than us because of my insistance. 

Anyhow, we are the last ones standing and we are still not watching any television.  We may make an exception (or cheat depending on how strict you are) tonight if there are any good Children's Christmas programs on tonight we may allow the kids to indulge in one as a reward if they are good today. 

Tomorrow we are visiting Santa at Crockery Township pancake breakfast and I of course am trying to figure out a way to run there so I can keep my string of running days in tack.   I am up to 6 consecutive days with a run of at least 2 mile.  Kara and Jeff are also going to the Wizard of Oz for some live entertainment afterwards.  Sunday brings photos with Santa at the mall and we are attending the Evergreen Ministries Christmas Music Celebration at night!  The holidays are gearing up!

The new house is still moving along slowly but surely.  All painting is finished now we just need carpeting, toilets, running water and some light fixtures and we will be good to go! Maybe in time for Christmas.

Vern Out

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Strippers and lingerie

The table dancing bait worked so well that this time I am trying strippers and my best Victoria's Secret!  I just checked our stats and 34 people have checked out the table dancing post from yesterday!  That is definitely a record.  Anyhow, I don't have any of the Thunder from Down Under guys lined up for tonight's festivities (much to Jeff's dismay), but I did read an hour of the BFG to Kara. Just Me and Kara reading together while snuggling on the couch; an experience made possible by Hazel and AJ's sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa. We also played some new games that the kids got for an early Christmas present from our dear friend, Tracy.  It was splendid having time together with just the two of us.  However, the Thunder Down Under is supposed to be pretty darn good too.

Well the television isn't on tonight and strippers have not descended upon our domicile.  I do have my best lingerie on (just kidding I am in yoga pants and a my marathon t-shirt) and a new mission in life (in addition to yelling less at the kids) I am going to run everyday that is left in 2011 which should mean that I get over 800 miles for the year!!!  Way Cooler than any television show!

Vern Out

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Table dancing

No I don't have a new job table dancing (sorry to disappoint). I was just kidding to get people to check out this post.  I will do anything to improve our viewership; I know, it is scandalous.  Furthermore, it seems Hazel has really given up her table dancing gig at the library.  So our family is officially dancer free.  I know it is a sad day for all of us.  I am sure the library employees really miss it the most.  We have been here at least a half a dozen times without her climbing the tables and dancing victoriously at the top!  She has also lost her fascination with electrical outlets and no longer unplugs everything in this place.  Instead she is actually playing with blocks and other toys today. 

As annoying as all her old habits were, it saddens me a little because it means she is growing up and so fast at that.  Anyhow, we are back to our regular routine; workout, library, grandma's office, grocery store and home for a hot bath!  We are so over the TV; although the kids do ask for a movie the second we walk into either of the Grandma's houses so I guess the kids are not totally over it.  But at home we are at peace without our telly.  We finished reading Matilda and are now reading the BFG somehow I never read this one either so once again I am having a great time with it.

Vern Out

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Rose Bowl

I am bummed, pretty seriously bummed, about the Spartans.  I may end up in therapy over the whole ordeal. I just couldn't believe that they lost.  Honestly, I was in shock.  The fact that they lost in such an anti-climatic way at the end of such an exciting action-packed game was just hearbreaking, devastating really. 

Anyhow, in order to help me get over it I am sitting at the McDonald's playland watching the kids play with their cousins.  I am not sure if McDonald's is effective treatment for sports related depression, but we'll see. It sure beats watching television! The Daniels live about two hours away from us so when they decided to come to Fremont to meet our new neice, I decided to bring the kids so that all of the kids could burn off some energy in the playland while Miranda and Mark visit the baby.  They are having a ball and it does make me feel better to see them all so happy and having such a great time.  It is a little bit of a comfort, but I am still seriously sad about MSU. What is truly amazing is that I no longer consider the television in the list of options to make me feel better when I am having a rough time.  Now I turn to coffee, wine, books, my running shoes and play time with the kids to get me through when times are rough.  Not the television. 

I was really looking forward to breaking in the BAT (Big Ass Television) in case you didnt read my post last week watching the Spartans in the Rose Bowl, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.  Instead we will have to break it in watching the Super Bowl and I doubt the Lions will be representing the NFC.

Vern Out

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The new babysitter

One of the things people probably don't think about too much when they decide to build a new house is a babysitter.  The amount of sheer time you will have to spend chatting with various workers, looking at different options and making decisions about silly stuff like light switch covers, door knobs, hinge color and ceiling textures is really astronomical and therefore a babysitter is necessary often. 

Another important thing for you to understand is that we don't really do babysitters, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.  If one of our many generous family members can not watch our children, then we simply don't go or do whatever was being considered at the time.  Other than my brother's wedding (when we paid someone to be inside the house watching our baby) and a Bocce Ball party a couple years ago (when we hired a sitter for an entire clan of family member's kids) we have never hired a sitter.

I mean I wasn't totally naive about the time that building a house would require.  I guess I knew some time would be needed, but at the end of the house building project I am spending an exurbanite amount of time doing such things and since my full-time job is caring for our kids, it is very challenging.  It has resulted in the kids spending an excessive amount of time with our new babysitter-Taylor Swift!  I know how lucky are we to have Taylor right in the comfort of our own home? Oh wait that is not the case... When I say she is our babysitter, what I really means is that my kids are spending a lot of time sitting in our van (while its turned off of course) jamming to Taylor Swift's latest hits.  I get a good thirty minutes out of this approach if I return to the van to put it back on number 3 or 6 every five to ten minutes.  Everyone knows that they are the best ones! 

Anyhow, this morning luckily Grandma and Grandpa are planning to have the kids so when I go for my daily chat with the house people the kids will be hanging with them!  Taylor gets a day off!  She must be exhausted after the week we have put in.  Hurray for Grandma Day!! 

Oh and Jeff's Christmas gift, the big ass television (aka The BAT), arrived yesterday and is safely wrapped up to be discovered on Christmas morning.  I will say this about the matter.  If the Spartans go the Rose Bowl (which I think they will), it will be WAY COOL to see them on the new larger than life, (okay maybe not but it is 42 inch) flat screen, machine!  GO GREEN!

Vern Out

Monday, November 28, 2011

The big TV

I bought a big as* television for Jeff for Christmas; I'm not sure why it felt so wrong buying a television during the year of no TV, but it did.  It seemed hypocritical and somewhat evil.  I swear to you we will not watch it other than sports until next year, but still it just seemed wrong.  And I am even making him wait to open it until Christmas morning with the kids, but it still seemed somehow wrong.  I kind of felt like I was breaking the law and I even broke a sweat when I hit the "finalize transaction" button on my computer.  However, given that it was the one, single, solitary item that he really wanted for Christmas and I got a screaming good deal on it, I could hardly complain about it. But I did, just a little.

Anyhow, I am officially done shopping for Jeff because while it was a great deal it was still much more than we usually spend on each other.  That part of it feels terrific.  To be done shopping for my spouse in November is a very good thing.  I also made it very clear that the TV is not my present because I disagreed with a new television being important in the new house.  I am not asking for anything too special, but my own gift is expected.

I also have a plan; I have a plan that doesn't involve the television and instead involves the new house and the holidays.  Now that I am finally super excited about the new house (I know it took me long enough to get there), it seems that our house will likely not be finished for Christmas which to say the least is sad to me.  It sent me into a mini-depression the past week or so.  I am ready to be done with the house building process.  It is extremely exhausting and frustrating.  Anyhow, back to the plan, for Christmas I want to do a sleepover at the new house in the living room by the fireplace and then the kids can wake up in our new house to see that Santa has visited.  I just have to get Jeff on board and I hope that he will come around to the idea.  Of course, his initial response was "that is a crazy idea and we should just sleep in our own beds".  So anyhow we will see if by some miracle our house is actually ready for us by Christmas.   If not, then hopefully Jeff will warm up to this crazy idea of mine just like he did with NOTV and we can wake up by the fireplace Christmas morning.

Vern Out

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Vacation

So I know that yesterday was just Thanksgiving and I do try to take life one holiday at a time, but I just had to share this little story with everyone.  Don't worry it is relevent because it involves both the television and Thanksgiving tradition so I am not just wasting your time! 

In the Smith family growing up we had a tradition that after Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's place we would watch Christmas Vacation together and put our tree and exterior lights up.  It is one of those memories that I am sure we all cherish because we had so much fun doing so and the movie no matter how many times we saw it made us all laugh, a lot. This year the siblings, sans Dominica, were all home on Thanksgiving Eve so we decided to mimic our old tradition by watching the movie. It was a wise choice. A very wise choice!

Mom already has the tree up and is completely done shopping for everyone (what an over achiever) and our folks have long since given up lighting the house up Clark Griswold style for the holidays so instead of working while we watched, once all five grand kids were nestled all snug in their beds (more to that later), we watched Chevy Chase and cast in this family Christmas classic while simply relaxing.  And even after at least twenty times seeing it, I still found myself laughing uncontrollably for a better part of the show and so did everyone else.  If you have never had the pleasure of watching this one, take the time, better yet, make the time, to fit it in this holiday season even if you are as busy as I am.  It delights most audiences and is shocked full of humorous situations to which most Americans can relate.  In the wise words of Clark Griswold, "Burn dust, eat my rubber."

Back to the getting the kids nestled all snug in their beds part of the story.  It was nothing like the Night Before Christmas as I may have inadvertantly made it sound. I merely borrowed the words because they fit well.  For us nestling of children was very challenging, time consuming and frustrating.  I'll explain.  As we finally had all the kids rounded up and actually sitting still at the table with Thanksgiving dinner on the table, Hazel began vomitting.  I'll be honest, it was not the greatest start to our holiday season.  Needless to say after a bath, a load of laundry, disinfecting of the floor, table, chairs, walls, dishes and anything else in the line of fire and after much time spent snuggling with a sick child, we finally had her "nestled" in her bed.  The others were even trickier.  Kara was finally "nestled" when I threw her into bed with Grandpa.  My sister's boys thankfully are much better sleepers than mine and were actually asleep by 8:45.  My son was the toughest. He fought sleep like a civil war soldier or an overzealous telemarketer and was not giving in easily.  After thirty minutes of back scratching and story telling I finally got him to sleep.  So finally at about nine thirty we had all children "nestled snug in their beds".  We turned on Christmas Vacation and I do believe all of us were transplanted back to the good old days with the click of the television.  I guess maybe all television isn't so bad.

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A thankful Thanksgiving

According to Merriam Webster Thankful is:
1:  conscious of benefit received <for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful>
2: expressive of thanks <thankful service>
3: well pleased : glad <was thankful that it didn't rain>
To me thankful is all about showing appreciation.  Showing gratitude for those I love and appreciation for my continued good health and well being; it really is about showing appreciation for all things good in my life.  This Thanksgiving I have so very much to be thankful for.  I have three healthy kids and I get to be home to raise them myself!  For this I am so grateful.  I have a husband who is working very hard to provide for us and even though we don't always see eye to eye I am grateful for him.  A little over a month ago I ran the Grand Rapids Marathon!!! And for that tremendous experience I am eternally thankful.  I have many supportive and loving friends and for each of them I am grateful.  We are building a fabulous new home and I am so excited and thankful to move (hopefully soon).  And we are celebrating the holiday spending time with family.  So on this Thanksgiving Day I say Thank You to God, to my family to my friends and to myself.
Vern Out

Monday, November 21, 2011

What a day!

I realize the day is only halfway done, but it has been a great one!  First of all, I was visited this morning by the Coffee Whisperer and anytime you start a day with a cup of fresh brewed Magnum Coffee you know it is going to be a great day.  It sure beats Sanka instant which is what I have been drinking the past few weeks since there was a small jar of it for a couple bucks on the clearance tower at Orchard Market and Jeff's Grandma swears by the stuff.  Well technically I have never heard her swear, but she does stand by instant coffee.  Drinks it every morning. 

Anyhow after that tantalizing and wonderful start to my day, the kids and I created some extra special Thanksgiving Day surprises for the Grandmas.  I would give more details, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.  I then rounded the kids up and we headed to the Aquatic Center where I ran 4.5 miles on the cross country trail without any knee pain!  That is what I am most thankful for today, a run that was painless!  It was beautiful outside too and the air was crisp and refreshing.  I then took my well earned 15 minute shower. I am still loving  those showers.  They are hot, relaxing and best of all still uninterrupted! 

Next came lunch and the kids were so good for the occasion!  I am so proud of them when they eat well, the meal is even healthy, they use their manners and put their dishes in the sink when they finish!  After that we had to drop Kara off at school and we even remembered her donated canned food items and her item for show 'n tell and you all know our history with that (at least if you follow my M-live adventures). 

I then decided, against my better judgement mind you, to bring the remaining kids (Hazel and Aven) to the library even though it was technically nap time. I figured I might get away with it since they had slept past seven and seemed to be having a good day.  So far so good!  We built an awesome road that goes all the way around the couch in the kid's area and AJ is delighted. 

Kara and I are reading Mathilda (a Roahl Dahl classic) for our evening special reading book right now and I will say Dahl really had it right with television.  The television is completely vilified in the story and we are loving that, not the nasty old telly!  If you haven't read this one I highly recommend it.  Kara is loving it and begs for extra chapters each night!  We have also read The Twits and James and the Giant Peach.  Next stop Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! 

Vern Out

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shouting Saturday

Have you ever gone to Meijer on a Saturday?  Or how about the Saturday before Thanksgiving, have you ever been stupid enough to go then?  I did today and I will say that it definitely made my top five list for worst experiences of my life. It may have been the worst choice that I have made this year. The others on my worst experience list and in no particular order were my brain surgery, past bad relationships, our basement flooding 3 times (and ruining our stuff and the clean-up it required) and when I fell out of the raft (3 times) while white water rafting down the Gauley during the dam release (I thought I was a goner for real) and then there is that trip to Meijer today.  Horrible.

Shopping this morning at Meijer was awful.  My kids actually behaved fairly well considering they are still not adjusted to the time change and continue to get up at 6 every morning so by ten oclock when we arrived at Meijer, they were already tired and ready for lunch.  The place was packed with cranky people and I swear attitudes truly are contagious because I went in to the store in a fairly good mood because I had just sold the microwave that was an extra from our new house appliance package purchase and I had run 3 miles to start my day. Despite these facts, I came out in a pissy mood.  I left Meijer feeling as though I had run with the bulls in Madrid and been run over by a couple of them only I hadn't just run with the bulls (which would actually be a pretty awesome experience) and I felt like I had PMS only I don't.

I also was very snarky with my kids because I had listened to enough parents yell at their kids at Meijer that I just felt mine needed a little yelling or they would feel left out. Logically I knew this wasn't true, but in the heat of the moment I found myself powerless to avoid a little yell at them.  Just a little one.  My yelling didn't get too out of hand, but I am also not earning the mother of the day award.  The morning had been quite productive and a run always puts me in a good mood.  The people at Meijer did not.  The employees were unhelpful, but the bigger problem was the fellow customers.  There must be some kind of rule that you can not shop at Meijer on this particular day of the year unless you agree to be a complete ass to any co-shoppers you encounter.  I was nearly run over several times (and I am pretty quick), a couple of rude comments were made to me and I overheard several nasty arguments as well.  Oh and the lines to check-out were ridiculous. Ridiculous.  I waited over 15 minutes to scan my own cart of goods with the "help" of my kids.

Anyhow, the reason for the vast details about the level of awful involved in this trip is because on the way home I let my kids watch a Barney video in the back seat.  I hadn't allowed such activities in a very, very, long time. And normally such a request would have been swiftly denied, but given the current situation, I made an exception.  In my defense, they really were some of the better behaved kids in the store even if they did drop the cinnamon rolls while arguing over them thereby causing the rolls to explode right there in the aisle.  After that little episode, we left the store as quickly as possible with the damaged goods and the rest of our groceries.  We picked up a hand-me-down bike that a friend was passing along to me and then headed home while the kids enjoyed twenty minutes of Barney and I enjoyed some country music.

Now we are listening to MSU kick some butt on WBBL and eating cinnamon rolls!  Life is good today, but Meijer is not if you plan to go there later, I would advise against it!  GO Green and for a change GO BLUE pull off the upset!

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I used to love watching Survivor; it was one of my staples for many seasons.  Don't worry I have not cheated for Survivor this year, not even once. Honestly, I don't even know if it is still on, but regardless I am not watching it.  We had actually quit watching Survivor long before NOTV started just because it had gotten redundant and boring in my opinion.  But it was, at one time, my very favorite show.  I even sent in an AWESOME audition tape trying to get on the show back before kids took over my life.  In it I ate a raw egg and a grub of some sort, I climbed a very high silo up at my folk's farm and for the grand finale I jumped in a very large pile of cow manure.  Rebel was my editor and he did an awesome job.  I am still waiting for my callback, but I doubt it is coming.

Anyhow, I am a survivor myself right now even without being on the show. Not only did I survive Monday's fiasco of getting to MOPS and then getting Kara to school on time (among other heroic feats), but I also survived opening day of deer season which in our home serves as a not-so-gentle reminder of the fact that my husband loves deer more than he loves me.  Just kidding, but I do sometimes wonder if this isn't just a little bit true.  Deer don't disagree or talk back and they definitely don't go running all the time thereby leaving you to tend the children.

At this juncture, I find myself praying frequently that our home will soon be finished because the stress levels have reached an all time high in our house building adventure and I can't take much more of it.  Hopefully I will continue to be a SURVIVOR when all is said and done with the house.  Right now I am surviving another trip to the library and so far Hazel hasn't destroyed any major appliances and she is still not dancing on the tables which is a very good sign that we will survive this trip!

Vern Out

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lord help me

This morning I decided to mix things up a bit.  I wanted to make things more interesting since we have to be to MOPS at nine and we will already be struggling to get out the door on time! I thought throwing in a story for the blog would be a good idea. So today instead or writing while watching my kids at the library, I am writing while trying to dress them and feed them breakfast in the comfort of our very own home. We borrowed the in-laws phone card so we are on-line at home!  In case you were wondering, it isn't any easier this way.  I still find myself unable to write for more than a few seconds without needing to act as a referee, chef, waitress or personal assistant. I still find my computer precariously positioned atop our countertop since school projects and breakfast have taken up all of the best countertop real estate in our home.

Out weekend was very busy hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house with the siblings (less Dominica since she was busy entertaining our folks for her 40th celebration Happy Birthday Dominica).  The kids loved the time spent together, but it completely exhausted them so today is also technically a recovery day from that!  Lord help us.  Anyhow, we have a very busy day planned with MOPS, school and possible afternoon workout if all goes well (To be completely honest I doubt the workout will happen because I just dont see things going that smoothly today) but I can dream right! The television will be off.  We made the mistake of tuning into the Lions game yesterday and that was just plain ugly so I wished we had left it off and played games with the kids that would have been much more enjoyable. 

Also news worthy, Jeff got a doe this weekend up at my parents (in case you were wondering a good sized doe will fit in the back of a Pontiac Vibe) and he is out hunting again right now so I am pretty sure at some point in time during the next 48 hours our house will also be converted into a deer processing plant!  How exciting (I hope you can sense the sarcasm in my voice).  Anyhow there will be NOTV today we will be otherwise entertained, but Lord help me with all that we do today.  I am going to need it.

Vern Out

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fear factor

Based on the title, you may be thinking that we broke down to enjoy Fear Factor as a family.  Wrong.   We did not. Even the Daniels have not been watching that silly show.  If we were going to cheat, not that I am saying we are going to, but if we were going to cheat it would be for something really good like Ellen, Wheel of Fortune or Criminal Minds not for a stupid show based on exploiting people's greatest fears.

I recently found myself scraping old dried out vomit off from the back seat of our van and I thought to myself, “now this is pretty gross; it’s down right disgusting.”  But I didn’t flinch, gag or dry heave not even a little.  I just did what needed to be done and went about the rest of the evening as if nothing had happened.  I am not afraid of such disgusting things.

In my mind such issues are really not a big deal at all.  They are just part of life.  I had years of training on dealing with gross things back when I ran the Animal Shelter.  Prior to that, I once had an entire fifty pound bag of moldy dog food in the leaky trunk of my car that Miranda and I had to handle.  I am pretty much an expert in dealing with disgusting stuff.  Miranda is as well.  She really man handled that moldy dog food single handedly I was more of a spectator.  Her son has apparently inherited her talents as he recently swept her floor and snacked on the week old mini marshmallow that he found during the process. 

In the past two weeks I have had two separate incidents of puking children in the back of our van which thankfully is a record and still I was not afraid of the germs nor grossed out by cleaning the old vomit that had somehow been missed during the preliminary cleaning.  

Mysophobia is a pathological fear of contamination and germs; it is your basic garden variety germophobe.  I for one am not afraid of germs.  I eat ‘em for lunch!  I eat food that has landed on the floor even after five seconds has passed by and so do my kids.  I have probably eaten more dirt and bugs than your average Survivor contestant, I don’t wash my hands excessively nor do I carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse and I am the mother of 3 young children.  The only instance I can recall fearing germs was during the first puking episode in our van a few weeks ago and I was only afraid then because the marathon I had trained long and hard for was less than 48 hours away when the puke contaminated our van.  You all read about that in a prior post and by the way not yelling at the kids is actually going pretty well.  That’s not to say I haven’t yelled at all, but I do notice a significant reduction in my outbursts.  Anyhow, I really didn’t want to miss running the marathon.  Any other day of the year, the puked covered van wouldn’t have even fazed me, but at that moment in time the puke scared me senseless. 

My kids often have dirty hands and faces and I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing.  They are kids after all.  I just don’t understand all of the fuss over germs.  Nowadays you can’t go anywhere without seeing antibacterial soap and sanitizer readily available.  Germs are found literally everywhere and for the most part they don’t cause too many problems.  We have been coexisting with microorganisms for millions of years and other than the plague and a few other significant epidemics, I think we can all agree that it has worked out pretty well for us humans. 

“Why is this relevant to NOTV2011?” Is probably what you are thinking right now and I will tell you why.   It is relevant because Miranda and I, while unafraid of germs, were completely terrified of no television for a year while raising our respective young children.  We were scared @#&!less. And while she has not exactly made it the full year without television whatsoever, she did live at least half without TV and the rest with a significant reduction in television time and I have for the most part lived the better part of a year without television.  We are no longer afraid of entertaining our children without the assistance of our television sets and we are still not germophobes either.     

Vern and Mird Out

Thursday, November 10, 2011

News update

I figured our loyal followers are wondering what is happening with Jeff and his morning news routine so a quick update. I decided not to yell since it is my new mission in life afterall to yell less (originally instated for the children's sake, I decided I should apply it to Jeff as well) so I am letting the news watching go for the most part with the understanding that this then means that Jeff has to look the other way when I spend too much time and money on running.  The timing with all of this was especially helpful since Miranda and I signed up for the Warrior Dash during our super cool sleepover a couple weeks ago without prior approval or input from Jeff so we're even he can watch the news and I will be wearing a horned helmet come July 28th!  No television today we are celebrating Hazel's birthday!  Happy second birthday to Hazel! 

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breaking news

            I busted Jeff watching the news this morning, Fox 17 Morning News to be exact.  I have to admit if I were going to tune into a news broadcast this one would be my choice.  The reporters are witty and the show full of surprises and of course most importantly it is local.  Back in our television watching days, we were regulars to the show.  But we had given it up for the year.  Anyhow, when I walked in on it, Jeff was startled and said “I watch this most mornings while I get ready for work”.  I don’t get up with him all that often so I was none the wiser until now. 

            So now what do I do?  I could get mad and yell and scream. I could pretend like I never caught him in the act so to speak and just continue to sleep until he has left for work.  Or I can accept that in addition to watching sporting events, he watches the news in the mornings and let it go.  I’m just not sure; I am torn on this one.  I want the integrity of NOTV2011 to be intact and unquestioned. Watching the news in the morning is definitely not living without television so if I am being completely black and white I have to rehearse my screaming tirade and get ready to lay into him when he returns home from work.  If I am being more of a gray interpreter the news is full of useful information such as the weather, local events and traffic reports and it is already November so it is kind of silly to make him change this now.  Anyhow all of our followers out there how do you view this most recent conundrum?  Leave us your comments.  Other than this little hiccup NOTV is going smashingly well we didn’t even watch football on Sunday because the Lions had a bye week.  

Vern Out

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Why do I always feel like I made a bad decision, or the wrong choice.  And why is it so difficult for me to choose in the first place?  On the rare occasion that I go out to eat, I always deliberate for a long time about what to order and then inevitably once the order is finally placed I find myself thinking, "I should've ordered the steak instead".  Why do I do that?  And more importantly, why can't I stop?  Anyhow what got me thinking about this in the first place is the new book I am reading, Until the Real Thing Comes Along.  I am only a few pages into it, but the author raises this intriguing question in the opening pages about playing a game called house.  Here's how it works: You go on a drive and you can select any house you see to be yours.  The only catch is that once you choose, you can't change your mind.  She claims she is able to choose and not regret her decision later if a better house comes along.  I am certain I could not.  I would probably just never choose one. But if I actually did make a choice, I would most certainly regret it later. Either that or I would drive on forever looking for the right house for me and never make a selection.  Well once this idea was injected into my mind, my brain can think of little else. 

First of all, I think options are a good thing, but I also think that the number of choices nowadays is a little absurd.  I am in favor of choices, just not so many.  Just walk into any paint store and look at the ridiculous number of color options available as standard colors and you will realize this is true.  Talk about overpopulation; there is definitely an overpopulations of options in today's world.  Junk food is another prime example.  There are so many different forms of chips and snacks in general that you could spend an entire weekend just checking them out at Meijer. 

A far as making decisions goes, I do the same thing when I go shopping as I do at a restaurant.  I take a lot of time picking out new shoes or jeans and once I actually buy the new ones, I immediately second guess myself and wish that I had chosen differently.  It is going the same with the new house.  I spend countless hours looking at even more countless options in paint color, carpeting, countertops or tile and I really scrutinize my decisions and once I make a decision I am left immediately wondering if I have chosen wisely.  This has to stop or I many never sleep well again.  And thank goodness I have good books to keep me company at night because Jeff certainly does not.  He sleeps like a newborn baby, sound and hard. And he never seems to question his choices.  I don't really want to be like him; he is too opinionated and stubborn and contrarty to his beliefs, he is not always right.  But still maybe being a little more decisive would be good for me.

I shouldn't say I never make a decision I love or stand behind.  Or that I always make bad decisions.  Any therapists could tell you that always and never are bad words to use, but rarely.  I rarely make decisions without doubt.   When I decided to run a marathon, I never doubted it or thought I should've never signed up.  I was committed.  With NOTV I was the same way. I never second guessed it.  I am loving life without television that is one decision that I didn't immediately doubt.  I knew right away that giving up television was a good thing for our family.  The confidence in the NOTV deal is as rock solid now as it was the night I dreamed it up.  Now if only I could find the same peace and steadfast belief in my choice of wall color in the new house then life would be good and I would be sleeping better.  Of course if that were true I wouldn't be working on my 27th book of the year!

Vern Out

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The aftermath

We survived the Daniel's sleepover last weekend and arrived home safely Sunday evening after a detour to the family farm to visit the Grandparents and Rebel and Leslie.  I will say this, I wish just once Jeff would go away with all three kids for a weekend and leave me home alone.  That would be way cool.  It would be beyond way cool, it would be totally AWESOME!  Not only would I get some free time, but Jeff would learn a greater appreciation for just how much work it takes to haul our three kids around, keep them fed, entertained and bathed for an entire weekend.  Oh and how much work it is to clean up all their messes.  Anyhow, it is highly unlikely that this wish will be granted, but if there is a Fairy God Mother out there, this is my wish.

Well after the super fun (and super hard work) sleepover weekend we spent Monday recuperating.  I did go for a run Monday morning, but other than that we pretty much vegetated and read a lot of books and the kids found it their new mission in life to drive me crazy by whining and being generally annoying.  I am pretty sure this new mission in life was a result of the kids being completed exhausted from all the fun we had over the weekend with their cousins, but still it was driving me nuts.  Tuesday was a repeat on Monday's recuperation gig because we were still out of sorts and by out of sorts, I mean unable to dress ourselves or speak in complete sentences and the kids were unable to get along whatsoever.  It was basically one big ugly nonstop fight among my kids for a good forty eight hours.    By Wednesday, we actually rejoined the living and even visited Grandma at her office without a total meltdown although it was close with Hazel she nearly melted and I had to run from the office with her to avoid a public crying fit.  Today is Grandma day! However, Grandma is in Las Vegas so Grandpa is subbing in solo style and I am home with Hazel while she naps.  I can't wait until next Thursday when I get another real Grandma Day!

The television is still off, the kids seem to be getting close to being back to normal and this weekend we have no plans.  I do hope to sneak out with my running buddies for a short, quick run since I have not seen most of them since the marathon!  Other than that we are just living the NOTV dream, you know other than the kids fighting all the time and driving me crazy part of it and the fact that I have a few run on sentences in this post!

Vern Out

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sleepover Daniel's Style

So here we are drinking wine and writing our update on the NOTV progress for our families.  All five children are sleeping and just saying that out loud makes me fear that we will somehow wake one of them up and ruin the happiness that we are enjoying right now.  We are amidst our second bottle of wine and Miranda just pulled out a cute little bottle of Finnish Vodka.  We did sister shots and now we are here to update the world about our lives without television.

First of all, the Daniels are cheating.  They have been doing so for awhile now, weeks really.  Somedays they actually survive without television, but usually they are tuned into something useless like Grey's Anatomy or How I Met Your Mother.  Miranda just said that, "she enjoys radio better than television".   I agree you can rock it pretty hard core while listening to your favorite tunes and still accomplish something pretty fantastic. But if you turn the TV on, you waste time because it sucks you in and you do nothing else. You just watch TV.  The television mesmerizes, practically hypnotizes you,  and you can not accomplish anything once you turn it on; the radio actually motivates you if the right music is on.

At our house the World Series has been on, other than that business as usual no television much to Kara's dismay.  Anyhow, we did let the kids watch "The Land Before Time VIII"  tonight and eat like two tons of popcorn so I guess we have not been entirely TV free, but for the most part we are living the NOTV dream now that Hazel has stopped puking. 

Vern and Mird OUT


So far I am doing fairly well at my goal to yell less at my children.  Less is a pretty vague term so I may not be doing quite as well as I think, but still I feel certain that there has been some reduction in my yelling this week.  A friend suggested I read the book, "Love and Logic" to help with my mission and apparently all parents in West Michigan must share the opinion because there are enough holds on the book at the library that I can  not even place a hold on it.  I will have to wait it out or breakdown and go buy the darn thing. 

The weirdest part of this is that Spring Lake Library doesn't even own a copy of Love and Logic. Given the number of children (and frazzled parents) that attend their story times on a regular basis, I find this shocking,  unbelievable really.  So I am muddling through my yell reduction plan without any professional pointers or advice  whatsoever and what I find myself doing a lot is breathing deeply, praying  and ignoring my kid's whining. With time maybe they will whine, less just like I am yelling, less. Oh and yes we are reading even more than before.  I really didnt think that was possible, but it is.  Reading is therapeutic for the kids and for me.  When I find myself feeling overwhelmed I take a few deep breaths and announce, "book bonanza time!!" and almost always the kids are delighted and settle in for a book (or two or three hundred).

Anyhow, we're heading to the Daniel's house to check up on their NOTV progress since they never write on here anymore and hang out for the weekend so I think that should help to keep us television free and to keep me from yelling and if we are really lucky keep the kids from whining.

Vern Out

Monday, October 24, 2011

Library take Two

And I find myself at the library with my three children trying to blog again.  Somethings never change.  One thing that has changed is that we have finally started spending some serious quality time with our "365 things without television to do with kids" a book that a friend sent me a few months ago and there are some really terrific games in there.  Thanks Kim Lowe for the awesome gift! 

Ideas that we have taken from the book so far include adopting a tree, several fun and educational games, home-made art supplies and some fun songs and this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.  I can't wait to find more ideas to use now that the cooler weather is here. 

Anyhow, we came to the library for the second time today after our first attempt was a dismal failure. It was possibly the worst trip to the library that we have ever endured. We were literally in the library for less than fifteen minutes during which time both children were whining and throwing  fits and it ended just as ugly with me dragging my son from the library while he screamed on in anguish.  To be completely honest, I was kind of surprised that no one thought I was abducting him and the police were not called. 

Oh well, we are back at it and this time it is going MUCH better.  I have all three kids this time and each is playing nicely with toys and computers. It seems Hazel has even gotten over her fascination with electical outlets and table dancing so she is watching Kara play Dora on the computer and not climbing uncontrollably or trying to ruin the computer and copy machine.  I guess some things do change!

Vern Out

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Big Ten Network

No we didn't break down and sign up for the Big Ten Network although some days I wish we had.  So instead I am sitting here listening to the MSU game on the radio because my children were too naughty to earn a fabulous, all-inclusive, trip to Grandma's to watch it on ESPN.  There was even a potential sleepover involved so I really thought they would behave. Boy was I wrong. I was pretty upset with them for being so unbelievably bad this evening because I was really looking forward to watching the game on the big screen, but if there is one thing I know it is that kids will be kids.  And boy were they kids tonight. Naughty ones. I've adjusted and I am mostly over it.

Now sitting here in near silence without anyone around I am actually thankful for the break and I can still follow the game. I just can't see it.  I know the kids are all fighting a cold and were tired from our busy day so I tried to be understanding, but still their level of naughty was absolutely horrifying.  I can only hope this means they will be little angels at church in the morning and for lunch with friends tomorrow.  Jeff ran to Grandma's as soon as possible when I informed him that the kids had not earned anything other than an early bed time with potential for a book reading for good behavior  (if they could keep their whining in check)!  Amazingly enough they did get three books before bed!  With Jeff gone and the kids sleeping, I am seriously enjoying the down time, not the TV. 

Also notable from today's activities was a second failure of mine at donating blood.  The last time I tried to donate I was a senior in high school and my iron was too low.  I am somewhat embarrased to admit that I have not so much as attempted to give blood in the last 17 years.  Well today I gave it my all and I fell short again.  I was sad to be so close and fall short.  This time it was not iron that kept me from donating, but I simply didn't have a pint of blood to spare.  I gave about a half of a pint and then I dried up.  They said I was likely dehydrated and given that I spent the better part of Tuesday night puking and with diarrhea I guess I should not be surprised if I am still dehydrated, but still I was disappointed.  Anyhow, I was unable to donate once again, but this time I vow to try again soon instead of a decade or two from now.

Another notable change in me is that my favorite new line is, "I can do _____. I ran a marathon!"  The other night we were in bed and Hazel was coughing so hard I thought she was going to hack up a lung and I asked Jeff if he thought we should get the vaporizer out?  He listed a bunch of inconveniences involved with the process and said, "She'll be fine. It's too much hassle". I quickly responded, "I ran a marathon. I think I can handle hooking up the vaporizor".  And that is just what I did!

Now if I could just get my siblings on here to update us life would be oh so good!  Of course, I can always revert back to providing updates for them since I am so creative and ambitious.  It has been over a month since we have heard from anyone! 

Let's GO GREEN!  Who needs the Big Ten Network I have WGHN!

Vern Out

Thursday, October 20, 2011


A lot of pressure comes along with this post because it is my first post as a bonafide marathoner.  Just saying the word "pressure" causes me to flashback to the scene in Ace Ventura when Jim Carrey says, "Pressure, what do you know about pressure?"  So here it is; my take on the issue of pressure.

First of all, just like with stress, pressure can be both good and bad.  If kept at manageable levels, pressure causes us to improve, to develop, to excel.  In many instances, pressure leads to progress.  However, if pressure builds up too high the consequences can be catostrophic.  Yes, Mcdonald's ketchup packets will explode if jumped on by an exuberant 3-year old because too much pressure has been exerted.  Furthermore, this phenomenon is best not tested in your van like my three year old boy did the other day. Maybe he would have been better off watching televison at that particular instance (just kidding we still don't watch TV at our place).   Likewise, when my brain's pressure grew too high a few years ago, that was not progess that was just a scary medical emergency.  But still in the right situations pressure is a good thing. 

When I was running the marathon this past Sunday, the pressure of the onlooking spectators was a great motivating factor.  It was a very good pressure.  It oftentimes kept me from walking and during 26.2 miles there were plenty of opportunities to walk if not for the audience pressure I would have walked more than I did.  The pressure of the clock was a good thing as well.  When I knew I was on track to finish around 4:30, the pressure of the ticking timing clock was a very positive thing.  It propelled my completely exhausted body in a forward motion which at that particular moment in time was a very good thing. 

The pressure of the pace groups was also a welcomed pressure. (side note here there are actual groups at marathons that pace to a certain time so that you can tag along if you are trying for a certain finish time. It is pretty incredible that these runners are so in tune with their running to assure their timing performance on race day).  It was because of the pace groups and my running buddy that I finished when I did!  The last six miles I knew I was between the 4:29 (Oprah group) and the 4:44 pace group.  So each time I thought about walking or slowing down I used that pressure to continue moving forward!

One more topic regarding pressure.  Toenails.  Apparently the pressure on my toes on race day was too much because I have lost two more toenails from the marathon.  Also my favorite sign from along the marathon course was, "Toenails are Overrated!"

So it seems I should have some infinite words of wisdom and encouragement now that I have endured my first marathon and indeed I do!  First of all, never dismiss a slightly crazy or ambitious idea as unrealistic.  That only limits what you will accomplish.  One of my favorite signs from the marathon course was, "26.2 because 26.3 would be crazy".  Just between you and me, I'd run 26.3!  Many people label an idea as too far out there without giving it enough consideration and they miss out on some great things.  Second, make each second count and don't waste time (watching TV is a monumental waste of time so cut back or turn it off. I swear you will adjust and life will not end). And finally think about the pressures in your life and work to manage them in a manner that will allow you to progress and improve over time!

So television. What are my thoughts on life without television?  To be honest, I have not so much as thought about television in a very long time.  I have seen my Spartans be victorious over U of M and I watched the Tigers to the bitter end, but other than that my television is black and will continue to be so.  I have better things to do with my time!

Vern Out

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tiger insanity

When did my sanity become so dependent on nap times and Grandma days?  I feel like I need an entire month of Grandma days in order to catch up right now and even then I would probably still be arguing with Jeff about carpet selection.  At least I won the in-law lottery and have the best in-laws in the entire universe so I know I will get a break come Thursday. 

What I really need is two of me, a clone.  The person would have to have access to all of my infinite widsom to be useful.  Otherwise forget it. But could you imagine if there were two of you working simultaneously on your "to do" list?  It would be such a beautiful thing.  I might actually get caught up or at least feel like I am not falling further behind each and every day!

So here's a card I never thought I'd receive in the mail.  Five days before my first marathon and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an exquisite sympathy card for the loss of my toe nails!  My sister Miranda is the best sister in the whole wide world. She altered a traditional sympathy card to fit my current physical situation which is nursing two lost toe nails from my 20 mile training run a few weeks ago in preparation for the big event, the grand finale to my 2011 running season-The Grand Rapids Marathon this Sunday.  I am all tensed up about it, but the card really helped me to feel better.  My toes are still ugly, but at least I feel a little better about my situation.  Miranda is the only person in the universe who really gets me (probably because she is so much like me). and on a day when I had been near tears (of frustration)  a few times already (and it is only lunch time) this card was PERFECT! 

Anyhow, I hope to survive this week so that I am able to run the marathon come Sunday if not maybe my friend Brian can just drag my coffin along with him!  Probably not, but maybe.  If the Tigers could win the next three or four games that would help to calm my nerves considerably. While I like the exciting, dramatic games, I could use a nice calm game where my nerves and emotions are not riding the latest Cedar Point roller coaster for four and a half hours straight. I get motion sickness easily-- seriously my stomach was upset last night. And while I am at it, I might as well request a victory (or four) that would be nice as well.  ROAR!

Vern Out

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The apple tree

When I was a kid, like a thousand years ago, I used to climb the apple tree in the back yard and read books.  I would read for hours on end and must have completed a few hundred books from my precarious perch in that tree.  I loved to climb up there with a good Nancy Drew mystery and read the afternoon away.  Sometimes I miss those trips to my own little world of discovery and relaxation.  If I got hungry, I had apples readily available so I could spend the better part of a summer's day in that tree.  And I often did.  I would hang out in that tree reading and hoping that my parents hadn't noticed my disappearance.  Once in awhile they would notice my absence and I would get in trouble for not telling them where I'd gone, but to tell them took away some of the mystique of the experience.

A few months ago I talked about the hidden benefits of running—at the time my marathon running buddy, Brian, had graciously morphed into a super cool coffee delivery man providing me with top quality caffeine during a time when my coffee pot was on the fritz.  Not unlike that story, this is a story of hidden benefits; a story of hidden jewels.  I always suspected that the Aquatic Center probably had some extra paybacks as well. You know, benefits other than a great workout and an incredible staff. Well today I discovered one. A really big one. Today I discovered the showers at the Aquatic Center! 

Yes I did say showers. Yes I am talking about a public shower.  And yes I realize this sounds very, very strange.  I always knew that they had showers, but today I discovered the showers. To most a shower at their workout center is probably rated average at best, but to me it was excellent, heavenly, glorious!  I spent a good fifteen minutes in a hot, luxurious, uninterrupted shower.  It was the perfect end to the perfect workout-a leisurely four mile run.

Today in that shower was the closest I have come to the old apple tree experience in a very long time.  Now that I am the mom, there is no apple tree in our backyard and it is my job to keep tabs on everyone, a trip to the apple tree to read books for the afternoon is just not possble.  Instead of hiding in an apple tree reading books, I hid out in the Aquatic Center's shower and enjoyed the longest uninterrupted shower that I have had in over five years. I have already decided that even on days when I don't feel like working out, I will be heading there to shower!  My personal hygiene is about to get a major boost!

Anyway, the point to all of this is that the past week or so I have not watched television because I have been too busy.  We are cleaning house in a major way getting ready for the big move to the new house some time in November!   We are preparing for a massive yard sale later this week and we are working out.  The official taper for the marathon training kicked in so now I run a lot less and eat a lot more.  It's pretty fantastic!  We're still hear listening to the Tigers on WLAV and maybe someday I will get to climb that tree and read for a few hours until then I will retreat to the Aquatic Center for a long, hot shower even if I don't plan to run!

Vern Out

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tiger Fever!

If we had cable we would be turning on the television tonight at 8:30 for the Tigers game.  Since we don't have cable, we won't be doing so.  We will be listening on the radio on WLAV.  GO TIGERS!

Wednesday night was Kara's night to stay home with mom and dad. When asked what she wanted to do for her special mommy and me time she quickly replied,"get a Tiger's shirt".  Apparently Kara has an acute case of Tiger Fever which was probably contracted from your truly.  At least there is no unsightly rash or bruises that comes along with it!  I must say this is the first time I have really been into baseball and I am really into it. I am wearing my Tiger's sweatshirt right now while daydreaming of tonight's game!  Verlander-- let's go man!

Well it seemed like such a simple request so I of course approved it without realizing that it would actually require driving around for nearly two hours and visiting six stores before we would actually find a suitable shirt--one that fits my skinny minnie little Kara. And that girl is skinny. She LOVES her new shirt and is wearing it today with such pride. She wears it with pride, and with a pink long sleeved shirt underneath it so that she doesn't get cold and as Kara so eloquently put it, "so it doesn't make me look like a boy". 

Anyhow, other than the cost of gas and the twenty bucks for the shirt, it was a fairly affordable outing for her special night and by the time we found the shirt and drove home it was after nine o'clock so it was time to head to bed! We had a lot of laughs and fun during the outing.   It is definitely one of those special memories that you can't make with a television set.  Kara kept saying, "we can't give up mom. You told me to never give up!"  How could I argue with my own words?  I think her pep talk will be replayed on October 16th at the marathon!  I will use those words to push me through the pain!  And another added bonus to the whole adventure was that our dog, Stan, even came along for the ride, so we had some quality time with him!

Vern Out

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alternative uses

Since the kids no longer get to watch television, their overactive imaginations have been coming up with alternative uses for the big black box.  I would like to point out that they have come up with these ideas over the past several months on their own without any encouragement or input from me.  I guess this is their way of following the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle gig!

The first thing they did with the television (other than to watch it) was to use it to hide things from each other.  They like to play hot and cold and they oftentimes hide the item behind the television.  I can not tell you how many sippy cups have been rescued from deep behind the television set which is often a gross reality, but alas it's true.  I am quite perplexed as to why sippy cups get placed back there, but it happens all the time. Anyhow, the television and entertainment center now get used as storage for all things non televisional in nature and a highly popular hiding place for the game of hot and cold.

They also pretend that the television is the airport arrival/departure screen when they play vacation.  They check it to see if their respective flights are on time.  It is very cute.  I think their airlines have a better track record than most of the major airlines today and there is no baggage fee and you get free snacks.  Just saying.

They also used the television and oscillating fan combination to record their incredible musical performances this summer.  Jonas Brothers, you better watch out because my Constantine trio is pretty hot!

And the final use for our television (and my personal favorite) is that AJ recently turned it into a large complex target for his new nerf gun.  He saw uncle Robb shooting his bow and arrow at a target a few weeks ago and he wanted his very own.  He marks all of his shots, puts tape on the television to mark different target points and takes great pride in his ability to aim and kill the television. GO AJ take our TV down, Boy!

Anyhow, life is still incredible without the television being used for its true purpose. In the words of Jon Wilds, "we are living the dream!"

Vern Out 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

20 Miler

Today I ran my first 20-mile long run; the Grand Rapids Marathon training run.  It was brutal, but in a good way.  I feel like I am strong and powerful right now, as I relish in the run induced adrenaline rush.  It is way cool.  Way better than television although I am watching bits and pieces of the MSU game on ESPN at my in-laws as I write this and that is pretty cool too!  GO GREEN!  I feel great about life and I can not wait to run the GR Marathon next month! Yesterday was my birthday and I didn't tune into any shows other than a few bits and pieces of Fringe since Jeff was totally cheated and tuned in to that while listening to the Tigers on LAV.  Talk about sensory overload for me.  Go Tigers-- way to pull off a come back!  I am hoping to head to Turks for dinner so that I can pig out and not have any mess to clean up.  We'll see.

Other than that stuff, life as usual is happening at our place.  The new house is coming along well and I just found out that I get to have speakers in my bathroom. Speakers!  So not only can I lounge in a spa like environment while relaxing in my jetted bathtub with some candles and mood lighting, now I can listen to some mellow music while I am at it!  Man I can't wait for the new house to be completed! 

It will feel so good after long distance runs like today to soak in my new tub.  My muscles certainly are fatigued and I have three blisters and a couple of toe nails that might fall off after today's run. 

Little TV, I mean Vern, Out

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My new nickname; "Vern" better watch out!

Jeff called me his little television the other night.  While I wasn't sure if it was meant as a compliment or in a negative light. After some consideration, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt so I took it as the ultimate compliment.  "He thinks I am as entertaining as modern television!" I thought to myself.   I didn't think too much about the instance, until he called me the same a few more times.  Then last night, he did it again. He called me his "little television".  Considering I gave television up for the year, I was starting to get a bit annoyed with his insistance in calling me a television so I felt it necessary to get more details as far as why he felt that an appropriate nickname for me. So I asked him, "Why are you calling me that lately?" And he said, "You know, You're like a TV, I can't take my eyes off you!"   Not the best compliment, but still it was pretty sweet so "Vern" better watch out I may become know as Little Miss Television.  Pretty ironic.

I find it necessary to note that tonight is the Criminal Minds Season Premiere and I am NOT tuning in even though I would love to see what is going on with Hotchner and the gang. 

Little Television Out

Sunday, September 18, 2011


In the world of running there's a phenomenon known as flow; flow is when everything is going right.  You are in the zone.  You feel great, you keep a good pace, you have no pain, no discomforts even, and you are enjoying the feeling so much that you hardly realize you are running. You are blissful, elated and happy.  It's flow.

I have only experienced flow a couple of times during my illustrious running career, but the few times that I have were the best; they were some of the happiest times of my life really.  Oddly enough, childbirth (without any drugs) also allows me to get into the zone and is the closest comparison I have to flow.  And no I am not kidding, each time I gave birth I got a major adrenaline rush and I rode the high for at least a week.

And while I would love to report that one of my flow experiences was this past weekend when I bandited the Old Boy's Half Marathon, to report such information would be a lie. A big fat lie, not just a little white one.  The race started out fine and for 10 glorious miles I meandered in and out of borderline flow.  I felt really good and I kept a good pace.  Then at mile 10 for some reason my left leg started to bother me (I suspect that it may have something to do with the fifty pound neighbor dog that ran into my left leg full speed when I went running last week, but who knows) and from that point on I struggled.

The pain increased for the last 3 miles.  It is the worst pain I have had to run through. I guess now I feel like I can handle running through pain which is good, but I don't want to push through the pain right now during training and injure myself more seriously before marathon day.  After the race I was feeling low, frustrated and spent.  My left ankle and knee were sore. This soreness was likely complicated by the fact that I totally wiped out in the parking lot after the race yesterday.  Those of you who know me well are not surprised by this supreme display of coordination!  Those who do not, I am not even the least bit graceful.  Not too many people can trip over their own feet.   When I woke up today, I was mad that I would have problems now so close to the big day, angry that I wiped out in the parking lot and added insult to injury and I was tired.  I considered following Miranda's lead and renting movies and having a television marathon today.  I wanted to roll over and give up.  But then after breakfast my kids said, "lets build a house in the basement out of toilet paper". And I thought, "Why not?" So we did.

The toilet paper house was not nearly as impressive as I had hoped, but it did serve as a good distraction and a springboard for something spectacular.  Somewhere during T.P. House construction, I was apparently bitten by a cleaning bug because I ended up cleaning the basement, the kitchen and dining area, the living room, both bathrooms and two out of three bedrooms. Tomorrow I plan to do the last bedroom.  I never watched television other than a few minutes of the Lions game.

Well after the long day yesterday, I came home and read book number 19, "The art of Racing in the Rain".  It was an extremely thought-provoking and touching story about a race car driver's life told from his dog's perspective.  It was so very, very good.  And it got me thinking, "what would our dog say about us?"  I like to think Stan would think we are good people.  I need to believe he knows how much we adore him, but does  he? Do we do enough for him?  I am going to give more thought to this canine perspective and follow-up on this topic later this week.  Until then, I will be busy living, not watching television!

Vern Out

Thursday, September 15, 2011


We still don't have cable.  I suppose getting cable during the year of NOTV would be ultimately stupid so we do not have anything other than basic stations that come in with our rabbit ears.  We don't get to see the Tigers on TV very often.  When we do it is just a real nice suprise.  It's extremely special.  We generally listen to them on WLAV radio and I am surprised that I have actually developed a liking to this radio programming.  I used to get annoyed when Jeff would listen to sports on the radio and now I am right there with him listening.  However, I still get a lot of cleaning done while we listen I am not just sitting idly. Anyhow, tonight we won't get to tune in to see (or hear) if they earn their play-off bid because the game just started and it is already late, but we will be thinking of them as we sleep. 

Still no television at our place.
Vern Out

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book club-The DBC

So when I decided to give up television for the year one of my friends, Lori, emailed me and said "Vern since you are not watching television why don't we start a book club?"  I will be honest, I was not all that excited about a book club, but I did figure I would get to see some of my friends more regularly so I reluctantly agreed.  Well shortly after this written conversation, I started reading.  I haven't stopped.  I just finished book number 18 (that I can remember anyways) and I am working on number 19.

Well book club has been going strong for eight months now (I think) and not only do I look forward to seeing my friends (which I always knew I would enjoy) I actually look forward to reading the assignment each month!  One of our prior readings was Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons which ironically was about a group of women that starts a book club.  After reading that one, we decided our club needed a name so after much deliberation and so many changes to our schedule that I don't even know what our schedule is anymore, we settled on The Dysfunctional Book Club (The DBC).  It suits us perfectly.  Anyhow tonight is book club and I can't wait!  To think book club may have never been born if I hadn't kicked the TV to the curb!  So glad that I did and so excited to see my reading buddies and pick out our next reading adventure!

Sidebar-Mird I am so glad you have been posting updates again and so sorry to hear that you were all sick.  I think I would have caved in too had I been puking my guts out!

Vern Out

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TV Marathon

So I decided this morning at 3 am while I was spending some quality time with the toilet, puking my guts out that today would be a TV marathon day!  When Kenny woke up at 6 in the same situation as I, it was confirmed.  We watched movie after movie until my kids were sick of TV!! ha ha although that took a very long time!  Kenny laid on the couch most of the day and dozed in and out, so it was hardly watching TV anyway.  But about 11 am he wondered off the couch and found toys to play with, so I guess TV does lose its entertainment value when you are watching it ALL day!!

On the bright side, we were all feeling much better by dinner time and even went outside to play for a while.  Tomorrow will surely be better and much much less TV :)

Daniels Out