Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Monday, February 28, 2011

Back in the saddle

Not to go all Siskel and Ebert on you, but Eat Pray Love (the movie) was not nearly as good as the book.  Movies rarely ever are; in my opinion, the book is always better.  Anyhow, the biggest problem I had with it was with character selection.  I really didn't like the actor who played Richard at the Ashram. He didn't sell the part to me at all.  I didn't like the actor who played David either, or her husband for that matter.  I didn't even  like Julia Roberts in the lead role which was a surprise to me because I am usually a big fan of hers.  I just didn't think the author's personality was captured very effectively with her portrayal of Liz Gilbert.  You didn't really get a feeling for her sense of humor at all.  And Liz is down right hysterical at times.  Anyhow, over all, I was disappointed with that movie Saturday night. 

Last night we had one final movie showing as a family before we returned to our totally TV free life this morning (details later) and we watched, "Hachi: A Dog's Tale".  As far as I can tell, this movie was not a big blockbuster hit, quite the contrary it is a little unknown movie.  Other than Richard Gere who played the lead role and Jason Alexander who played a bit part all the other actors were unknowns, at least I think they were. I don't watch too many movies, but I had never seen them in other flicks.  I am not sure why it was not a big hit because this movie was very good.  Of all the movies I watched this past weekend this one was the very best.  It will make you cry though so watcher beware.  The other cool part about this one was it is based upon a true story which I always like.   I won't give away any of the story line so that next time you need a good movie to watch you can check it out and be completely surprised by it as I was.

Now onto the TV stuff.  Of course this past weekend was a complete and total bust in the world of NOTV.  We watched more television this past weekend than we had in the entire 2011 year to date.  However, there are a few silver linings in this cloud of recent NOTV failure.  First of all, our son is healthy again with no long term medical effects and we only had to spend two days in the hospital to get him healthy!  Secondly, almost all of the television we watched was watched at the hospital and the terms of the NOTV2011 deal states that you can watch television other places, just not at home.  So technically we only failed to the tune of two movies that we watched at home the past two nights.  Oh and Jeff and AJ watched some Nascar yesterday too.  So the failure was not quite as bad as it could have been.  Anyhow, this morning I am back at it again being the mean mom who strictly enforces the NOTV rules and we are all back in the saddle of NOTV2011.  Yes, I am back playing Little Miss Entertainment Specialist.  Well, I have to go we are about to make a big farm and train track village!
Vern Out

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Romantic Weekend

We are supposed to be cross country skiing in Manistee for our seven year anniversary right now.  We even splurged on the good hotel room instead of the Motel 6 which for us is a big deal.  Instead, we have spent the better part of the weekend at Helen Devos Children's Hospital.  It was not a total loss romantically as we did watch "Letters to Juliet" last night.  It was quite good.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes romantic comedies.  It was a very entertaining and romantic movie and it was set mostly in Italy so that was an added bonus.  It was fairly predictable, but other than that I thought very good.  Tonight we are watching Eat Pray Love.  I finished reading the book last week so I am very excited to see it.  Then we are back to the NOTV deal starting tomorrow or Monday.  The way I see it is this weekend doesn't really count for us since Aven was so sick and we spent a majority of our time in the hospital.  Besides that the doctor told to take it easy for a few days.  So here is a quick update and then we are off to finish our romantic weekend in style.

First of all, we are home and AJ is doing great!  Second of all, I thought we had walked into the wrong house because it was so clean and tidy. Seriously, it looked completely different than how I left it.  There was no evidence remaining of the cat house hot zone that I had left behind and there were no kleenexes on the floor or anywhere else for that matter.  How did my mom get so good at watching children and cleaning at the same time?  I guess there are bonuses to having four kids because she is very good at it!  I need to take lessons from her or hire her or something.  The laundry was all washed and the floors picked up and vacuumed.  The dishes were done, the sinks cleaned and the counters were wiped off.  Not only were all the basics done, but Grandma also washed all of the dirty laundry including the bedding from all four of our beds!  She wanted to "eradicate the germs"!  Mission accomplished, Grandma.  I don't think anything harmful survived your cleaning of our house. 

Now we are getting ready to eat dinner (leftovers) and then Jeff and I are watching Eat Pray Love as soon as we can get the kids to sleep.  This was my first time using a red box rental thing (I know I am behind the times).  Amazingly, I was able to easily operate the thing without error or assistance!  Hopefully I didn't get charged like a million dollars or anything on our credit card.
Vern Out

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Past 2 Days

In the past forty eight hours, I have gotten less than three hours of interrupted (not to be confused with uninterrupted) sleep, visited two hospitals, ridden in an ambulance for a second time (the first was when my brain nearly exploded four years ago, but that story is for another day) and watched TV.  I suppose I should provide a little more detail since I am not one for short and sweet. 

The interrupted sleep was not good.  Honestly, it seems like no sleep at all would be better than the little sleep I got last night and the night before.  It is definitely like sleep is teasing me lately.  Two nights ago AJ was up all night. Then last night each time I would settle down and doze off a hospital employee or medical machine would wake me up.  I have determined that I hate the default alarm setting on Pulse Oxygen machines.  They are set to alarm at 90, but no one so much as looks at them unless they go below 85.  What this means for patients and their parents here is that we get to listen to the alarm at least ten times an hour for at least five minutes each time and the best news of all is that it is a very annoying alarm sound that does wake me even from a sound sleep each time it goes off!  I am not sure who is at fault for this, but honestly it is probably best that I don't.

The ambulance ride was uneventful.  I kind of wished they would fire up the sirens just to spice things up a bit, but apparently there is a rule about turning them on if the situation is not of a certain severity. I wish AJ had been awake and feeling better so he could have enjoyed the ride because he LOVES firetrucks and ambulances.  I suppose if he had been up for a joy ride, then we would not have been riding in an ambulance at one in the morning in the first place. 

We did visit two hospitals before we made our selection.  We had to shop around for the best waiting time and then we waited for about two hours to be seen at the second hospital only to end up transferred back to the first hospital, Devos, in the end.  Irony sure is fun!

The TV watching has all taken place in the past twenty four hours and all of it has taken place at the Devos Children's Hospital. And we have been at the hospital with AJ since about seven last night.  Since this was fairly unexpected, my absence has not been spent as I planned to spend it, cleaning.  No the house has not been disinfected, the laundry and the dishes are not done (unless my mother is working her magic and cleaning while she cares for Hazel and Kara) and the house probably looks much as it did last time I wrote on here and that is to say completely messy and full of various medications and kleenex and worst of all germs. 

AJ has RSV (a nasty upper respiratory virus).  Normally it doesn't land kids in the hospital.  However, when we checked in at the hospital he had a temperature of 102.4, was severely dehydrated and could not keep fluids down.  Tonight he is hungry and keeping everything he eats down.  He has no fever at all and he hydration levels are getting better.  Hopefully we will get to go home tomorrow.  The only good to come of this experience (well of course other than Aven getting better that is the best part of all this!) is that I got to watch Wheel of Fortune tonight, but I didn't solve any puzzles.  I am definitely a little rusty.
Vern Out

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Quickie

Get your mind out of the gutter, there was no action at our place of recent.  With sick kids, no sleep and a house that looks like a hot zone (Visualize a cat house combined with the hospital and then throw three kids, a dog and a cat into the mix and you have some idea of what it looks like here!)  Yes our house is littered with kleenex, various medications, vaporizors cough drops and dirty laundry to name just a few of the items I can see readily as I type. If someone were to stop by unannounced today, said individual would be sorry they did.  I would say a quickie is about the last thing on our minds these days.  Anyhow, this is just a "quickie" post to let everyone know that we did survive the rest of yesterday without any additional television or movies for entertainment.  AJ is much sicker today than he was yesterday although he still says he feels, "fine" whenever I ask.  I figure we may have to resort to a movie at some point today for him too.  We'll just play it by ear.  He loves MONSTER TRUCKS so we may be able to distract him with videos of those.  My big plans for the day involve a serious disinfecting of our house and everything inside it.  This process may run into tomorrow, or March for that matter, so if you don't hear from us for awhile that is the reason.  I'm gone cleanin' not enjoying a quickie!
Vern Out

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Everything but the kitchen FLOOR!

About a month ago, you know back when I was completely and compulsively caught up in house cleaning, I cleaned just about every inch of our house.  Yes I scrubbed just about everything and every place within the confines of our house.  Remember I even scrubbed the ceiling in our bathroom to remove the detestable mold that had accumulated there the past ten to fifteen years.  And while that was the most dangerous of my cleaning missions, it was not the most disgusting.  No the most disgusting award goes to the cleaning of our kitchen floor this afternoon.  It was totally disturbing the amount of food that was crusted onto our tile floor.  Back during my cleaning frenzy, I cleaned it all.  That is everything, but the kitchen floor was cleaned, scrubbed, beautified or otherwise organized.  In all the craziness of the cleaning era, I somehow managed to forget to scrub the kitchen floor. It probably had something to do with the fact that our kitchen floor is at the center of all of our meal times and thus is filled with food crumbs regularly. While I would have preferred that the kids not watch a movie today, I was able to have some good come of it.  The kitchen floor is clean thanks to the 3:15 showing of Dora's Christmas! Yes today some good did come out of the use of our television.  Now I can say, "even the kitchen floor" when I refer to my list of areas that have been thoroughly cleaned at our house.

Vern Out

Dora Action

So AJ picked Barney this morning and now Kara has selected Dora's Christmas.  It only seemed fair since AJ got to pick one that Kara should get to select one as well. So needless to say, there is to be a 3:15 showing of Dora's Christmas started in moments if anyone is dying to see it stop by.  We held out as long as we could, but here the kids go again off to movieland!
Vern Out


I regret to inform you that at 10:45 EST (this morning) Barney Goes to the Farm aired on our television set. It is a sad reality. Tragic really.  It is sad that 10:45 was all the longer I could hold them off with my game of hospital. Usually my theatrics last much longer than that. Usually my theatrics are at least a little impressive. But I have to admit after last night's lack of sleep I was not bringing my A game; It was more like my C or D game so I should not be surprised that the kids were not impressed.  The Feel Better Soon Hospital, where "we make you feel better" was simply not all that impressive.  Alas they watched Barney and now we are playing with play dough and AJ is sleeping restlessly in the same Lazy Boy chair that housed Kara and I for a better part of last night.  I know he is likely due the same misfortune that Kara has been experiencing these past five days so I feel very sorry for the poor little guy.  I didn't sit and watch Barney instead I cleaned the kitchen, but I am still sad that we reached that point. But we are still dangerously close to "that point" and it seems that we will be spending the entire day here--at that point. Hopefully we can stave off any other movies for the rest of today and get by with other cheap forms of entertainment.

Vern Out 

Tuesday: Another Day with Illness UGH

It is only 8:33 in the morning and I already feel exhausted.  Not that I ever felt wide awake this morning, but I am feeling worse as time passes.  I was up a good majority of the night with sick kids.  Yes it seems that Aven has caught the nasty bug although he assures me that he feels just fine.  He was coughing the entire night and had a fever so I am pretty sure that he is not just fine as he claims.  So an hour ago I found myself again contemplating the NOTV deal.  It is just SO MUCH HARDER when you have sick kids to leave the television off.  It is tougher than the half marathon I ran last fall--FOR REAL at least then I had no whining kids to listen to and I got to enjoy the playlists on Andrea's Ipod.

So far we have not broken down, but we may at some point today. Yes we may be firing up the old TV for a movie during quiet time again.  I am hopeful (and possibly overly optimistic) that we can hold off that long again.  In my defense, I don't partake in the movie watching. Instead I do laundry, pick up around the house and read, but I still prefer that the TV stays off altogether.  This morning, I persuaded everyone into playing hospital.  I figure it is a spin off of doctor which is one of their favorites. The big difference is that at the hospital patients have to stay in their beds.  I figure it is a good  way to trick them into staying in their beds and doing nothing which is probably what their sickly bodies need the most.  I am the doctor and Hazel is my nurse so we should be able to cure them today.  Yes the tandum of Vern and Hazel should be able to knock this bug on its butt.  However, if we spend an entire day doing this and Kara is still sick tomorrow, then my plan is to go to the doctor and get some real drugs.  Various over the counter meds have not touched this thing.  I don't really believe in drugs too much, but this is getting out of control and I am getting completely, utterly and somewhat embarrassingly, desperate. 

Vern Out

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day to Me and Jeff!

Last week was Valentine’s Day and this year I gave Jeff an easy out for the occasion.  I told him specifically what I wanted.  I made myself clear and I reminded him twice.  And then I waited with anticipation.  I wanted a Top Ten List of things he likes best about me.  You see, Jeff tends to be the type of person that points out things he doesn’t like.  If he says nothing, then in his mind the assumption is that everything is good.  This system works great for Jeff and he has always been this way so it is very much engrained in him to go about life this way.  So despite my gentle coaching on the issue, Jeff continues pointing out the bad and remaining silent about the good.  And I am fairly certain that he still feels it is working out fine for us.  But this very negative way of providing feedback is less acceptable from my perspective.  To be completely honest, it down right stinks.  As a wife, it is tough to be married to someone like this.  It seems I constantly hear about everything I have done wrong and I rarely get any thanks or praise for the things I have done right.  Back when the NOTV 2011 started and I was enthralled with my cleaning program, Jeff pointed out that I had missed the soap dish when I cleaned the bathroom.  He did add the house looks nice as an after thought when he could tell I was irritated by the soap dish comment, but these are the kinds of things that are just so frustrating to me. 

So a few weeks ago when I was thumbing through the Grand Haven Tribune the Top Ten List idea was inspired.  I saw one of their male columnists who had done a Top Ten List for his wife as his monthly column. I told Jeff that I loved the idea and that A Top Ten List was what I wanted for Valentine’s Day as well.  As a bonus, the list was a completely free gift, so I really thought I would get some version of the same.  I knew it may not be as great as the one in the newspaper, I mean that guys was a professional writer, so I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so refined. But I at least thought some thoughtful kind words would be thrown together on a piece of scrap paper for me to cherish.  The list would serve to remind me that I am a good wife after all even though I am forgetful and I occasionally bump the van into the garage. 

On Valentine’s Day I waited patiently for this gift until it became apparent that it was not going to happen and then I did what any woman in the same situation would do, I got mad. And then a short time later, I started crying.  All the while Jeff remained, as any good man would be in the same situation, and that is to say completely clueless.  Anyhow, we handled the situation alright and for the most part I am over it, but this is to serve as my TOP TEN LIST.  Written by yours truly, which admittedly might seem a little bit arrogant coming from anyone else, but come on it’s just me, Vern; one of the most unpretentious and humble people in the world. Enjoy!

10.     I am compassionate.  I can easily put myself in the other person’s shoes. Whenever possible, if those particular shoes are not working so well for the individual, I try to help out in any way possible.
  1. I don’t judge others.  For the most part, I do not judge others. I won’t say never, but hardly ever. 
  1. I am open-minded and willing to try new things. This is how I end up swimming in the English Channel in December.
  1. I am dedicated. I persevere. I endure.  I think this is why I am good at running long distances and at having babies without drugs to aid me.  I can just endure anything as long as I know that there is an eventual end to it.
  1. I am flexible in both meanings of the word.  I can touch my toes and I can roll with the changes of life without so much as pulling a muscle or missing a beat.
  1. I am in great shape.  I take pride in my healthy choices in life and I make them a priority on a daily basis and even better yet I can be ready to go anywhere in five minutes.  Seriously it only took five minutes for me to prepare for our weddin!
  1. I am a great mother.  While I am not perfect, then again who is, I make time with my kids a priority and I try to plan fun, educational opportunities for us every day!
  1. I am intelligent.  While I am no Einstein, I can hold my own in the realm of intellect and since there is a hole drilled into the middle of my brain this doesn’t come without saying so I felt it necessary to add this one!
  1. I have a decent sense of humor.  While I could not handle the pressures of being on stage for a stand-up comedy routine, and I am no Adam Sandler, I am able to share my humor through the written medium which I do see as a gift and occasionally I am quick enough to pull off a joke or two in person.  And sometimes they are even funny.
  1. I can laugh at myself, make fun of myself and pick on myself like none other and luckily for Jeff I can handle it pretty well when others pick on me as well.

Since I am not one to hold grudges and I am a helpless romantic, I also made a list for Jeff.  Here are the things that are the very best about him!

Jeff’s Top Ten List
10.  Jeff is probably the very best dad in the world.  He is at least in the top two!  He is so great with our kids and he is a great provider to our family.
  1. Jeff is smart about a lot of things especially sports statistics which I find very cool. 
  1. Jeff is confident.  He makes up his mind about things and then he sticks to his guns.
  1. Jeff can be very funny although he doesn’t show it unless he knows you well and then he just picks on you. But still he can be comical.
  1. Jeff will always help a friend in need.  When I was dating him, he helped me clean up a big mess (think cat hoarder house) that was left by some college kids who had rented the upstairs of my house.  They trashed it big time before they moved out.  He even brought his carpet cleaner and cleaned all the carpets. And he was not even getting any at the time!
  1. Jeff is trustworthy.  He keeps his word and tells the truth (possibly to a fault).
  1. Jeff is a good looking young fellow. Seriously, he is cute!
  1. Jeff is financially smart and saves money like no one I have ever known!  He gives our financial planner a run for his money.
  1. Jeff is practical.  He always analyzes everything thoroughly before he makes a choice or decision and he always picks the practical choice.
  1. Jeff is probably the very best dad in the world.  Our kids adore him as a result and I find this side of him totally attractive!  It is what I love the most about him!

So now another Valentine season has passed.  While I won’t hold my breath waiting, maybe next year I will get a list created by Jeff.  I would encourage all of you to do the same little exercise with your significant other.  It really makes you focus on all the good things instead of getting stuck on the bad.
Vern Out

The Sand Lot

Okay so as I write this the kids are watching the movie, The Sand Lot.  It isn't as bad as it sounds, or as bad as it could've been though.  This morning I gave serious consideration to having a pajama and movie day.  Yes I thought about creating an entire day of us all lounging in front of the television playing movie after movie in our jammies while eating whatever junk food sounded appealing.  Kara was up most of the night coughing as she has been for the past three days and nights.  It is getting old. 

Anyhow, I was once again operating on less sleep than a newborn's mother when I was planning today.  Sleep deprivation really significantly alters what seems realistic or possible so at 7:30 this morning what didn't seem possible was doing anything that required that I move or display any level of enthusiasm. And what did seem possible was consuming coffee and something sinfully sweet while watching PBS Kids for the entire morning.  I was dog tired.  I even went so far as to call Miranda for her opinion on the situation.  I ran my idea by her that included the coffee, desserts and PBS for the entire day.  I told her, "if I am gonna blow it, then I might as well completely blow it".  She laughed and said "I am not going to tell you it is okay".  However, Cousin Haleigh had a snow day and called a short time later to see if she could come over to play for the day.  Miraculously, they were not scared of our germs, or they just figured it was too late since we had spent time together this weekend.  Either way, Haleigh came to play!  It is amazing that adding one child can actually make a day easier for the adult in charge.  Yes adding Haleigh to the mix actually made the day easier for me.  She is entertaining to the kids and older so she helps to make sure the others do not hurt or kill one another.  It is a beautiful thing. 

We spent the morning cleaning the kids' bedrooms. Well technically I cleaned and the kids mostly uncleaned, but I will take what I can get in the bedroom cleaning department.  Then we played doctor (a lot), played beauty parlor (a lot), played with play dough (a lot) and read books (you guessed it-- a lot).  Miraculously, we made it to lunch without TV!! And then Grandpa called to see if the kids wanted to come to their place to play for a couple hours. Well, duh, of course they did.  Anyhow the kids (minus Hazel) all went and played until quiet time.  Grandpa gets bonus points for all of his help today.  He even let the kids paint while they were there which means they are much less likely to bug me to do the same thing here after the movie.  Quiet time is currently under way and with Kara sick and AJ in desperate need of quiet so that he would actually get some sleep, I made the decision to allow one movie.  That is why The Sand Lot is currently being shown on our television set. I have plans for after quiet time which include the bath tub, millions of bubbles some old bath toys and my good old imagination!
Vern Out

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Co-ed Baby Shower!

I should've know that Kara's dry heaving yesterday morning was more than just a five minute ordeal.  I'm a seasoned mom. I should know these things.  I guess I just wanted to pretend like maybe it was just a fluke or a little five minute cold bug or something.  But seriously, how many five minute cold bugs have you had in your lifetime?  Probably not too many. Deep down I think I knew she was coming down with something nasty, but she insisted she was fine and I wanted her to be fine so we went ahead with our normal day.  The nasty virus seemed to invade her body yesterday shortly after attending school.  So unfortunately we probably inadvertantly shared it with others. She returned home to sleep the entire afternoon.  Then Kara, AJ and daddy watched The Little Mermaid while mommy went to the super cool game night that you already heard about compliments of Mird (Hey Mird-thanks for writing BTW since our other siblings never actually do).  What a bunch of slackers Domid and Rebel are.  Anyhow, Kara slept the entire day today as well. She was only awake long enough to dry heave some more into an old icecream bucket.  Oh the joys of motherhood!  Suffice it to say, that it has been a long couple of days for all of us, but no worries the TV remains off other than last night's showing of The Little Mermaid and I really believe that Kara earned that one.  She is really feeling yucky.

I know I have already said this a few times before, but I just have to say it again, "I have the best in-laws in the world".  They were at it again, being super helpful without forcing an ounce of guilt upon us tonight.  Even with Kara so sick, they still watched all three kids for the evening so that Jeff and I could go to our friends' co-ed baby shower. Yes I did say co-ed and baby shower in the same sentence.  The co-edness and the baby shower were happening simultaneously in the same place.  It's kind of a scary concept.  We had planned the night out months ago and then with Kara sick I feared we may have to miss it.  Jeff, of course, celebrated that we may have to miss it.  As most guys would be, he had been skeptical of the whole "shower" so he saw Kara's illness as an opportunity to get our of going.  Thank goodness for Grandma and Grandpa's generosity to care for Kara because we would have missed such a good time.  Jeff even admitted to having a great time!

Who knew a co-ed baby shower could be SO COOL!  My friend Reese did an INCREDIBLE job planning this gig.  Leave it to the friend who doesn't plan to have kids to throw the coolest Baby Shower ever.  The home-made Horse Racing Game was a huge hit!  Everyone loved it.  Even Jeff!  I don't know if you remember, but creating the game was one of my first NOTV projects I completed this year. Seeing it up and "running" made this weekend even more special for me.  All of the grueling hours spent making the game finally paid off in hours of fun had with friends and family this weekend. It was hands down the funnest baby shower I have ever been to and that includes my own.  Of course, for sentimental reasons my own showers would still be classified as my favorites, but as far as entertainment goes my showers didn't even compete with Rachel and Aaron' s shower today.  We got to see friends we hadn't seen in years and the food was great as well.  It was just an awesome time.  So as Mird so wisely said, "I hate to think of what I would have missed if I had been watching TV today".

Vern Out

What a great weekend!

I had such a great weekend, or first half anyway, as the weekend is only about half over.  I was lucky that my mom wanted to watch my kids on Friday so I could join game night with the fam! What a great time, in fact I would say I've never had that much fun watching TV in my whole life :)  We played a new game from Vern, horse racing, which didnt actually involve any horses, then some old fashion scrabble.  We finished off the night with a tribute to the 80's.  We played on Lerd's nintendo (no not nintendo wii, actual nintendo) until one in the morning, just like the old days!!  Some Dr Mario, Contra and we even went to the olympics on the power pad!! I won silver haha...then we spent the morning shopping and chilling until returning to pick up the kiddies.  No, I would say definitely I did not miss TV this weekend, in fact I think the TV may have been one of the few things that could have ruined the weekend :)  Hopefully the rest of my weekend will be as great!! - mird out

Friday, February 18, 2011

Still Alive!

I really thought my fate today was sealed when I awoke to find Kara hovered over the toilet dry heaving at six this morning.  Yes at that point in time, I was certain that I would spend my day as a nurse to Kara.  I would be stuck inside on such a glorious day and worst of all I would be without internet.  I really figured a story to share would not happen at all, but then I talked Kara into taking a bath and gave her some cough syrup and within about an hour she was feeling much better and she insisted she was ready to go to school with her cough drops in hand!  Apparently it was just all the coughing that had led to her dry heaving.  Who knew?

Anyhow, You will be happy to learn that I am back at my usual routine today I have been to the gym to workout and now I am at the library safely with three kids to monitor and therefore no opportunity for me to get lost in my deep thoughts like I did yesterday.  Today it is much easier to know what to write about, however, I also have two little children to monitor while I write, so it is much more challenging to try to capture my thoughts! 

A lot has happened since yesterday.  First of all, we met with an architect to start working on plans for the house we are going to build!  I was not excited for the outing before we left and that is probably an understatement.  I am a lot like Miranda that way, I just figured whatever we end up with will be a marked improvement over what we are living in currently and I just don't care that much about house stuff.  Our current house is much too small for a family of five.  It also lacks an entryway which results in me becoming irritated every time we arrive home.  First thing when we arrive home, we have to squeeze into the tiny hallway that has a steep and dangerous set of stairs running behind it in order to access our house.  Nothing in life is so maddening as this experience that we get to endure each time we arrive home.  The new house is definitely much needed.  I am not sure why, but I really thought I would be bored out of my mind at this architect meeting.  I guess I just don't think of myself as architect meeting material.  I am not the type.  To be honest, I'd have rather gone to the dentist, or back to the Gyno, than meet with an architect.  I would have tried to get out of it, but I knew that would result in a fight with Jeff so reluctantly I loaded up, coffee in hand, to attend the meeting.  The coffee was critical as I was certain I would fall asleep without it.  But surprisingly I wasn't bored (too much) and even more surprisingly I had ideas about the house.  Yes on this occasion I impressed myself!

After the architect meeting we headed to look at fireplaces and kitchen and bathroom accessories.  Again I was not excited to go, but again I feared a fight would ensue with Jeff if I didn't so I went.  While I did get bored with the fireplace discussion (which lasted well over 30 minutes mind you)  I didn't get too bored at the kitchen and bathroom place because it was there that I met my true love.  It's true I am in love and this is the real deal LOVE not the infatuation type of love like Hazel experienced with the electical outlets at the library last week.  Yes I am in LOVE with a bathtub!  I met the bath tub of my dreams at this store and we may even buy it for the new house!  Well nothing else noteworthy happened on the house planning excursion and then I came to the library and did yesterday's story.

 We had dinner with the in-laws complete with a couple glasses of much needed wine.  Nothing too notable happened there other Than Kara showing up to dessert last night clothed in her pajamas and her ski helmet.  It made us all laugh. It would make you laugh, but unfortunately I don't have pictures from that one.  Still no TV which when Kara was praying to the porceline god seemed unlikely, but I guess it just goes to show that you never know what will happen next when you have kids!
Vern Out

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life's Purpose

It is always difficult for me to decide what to write about when I get on here.  The weather, sports and religion are probably the most common things people talk about on blogs.  So they seem like obvious topics worthy of discussion.  But they don't seem like good choices for me.  I am really not a weather, sports or religion kinda gal and especially since I don't watch TV anymore I don't have a clue what is going on with any of these topics anyways.  Anything I would say related to these fine topics would be helplessly ignorant.  What I usually do when I write is just wing it, like most things in life and see what happens.  Yes I usually write for a good ten to twenty minutes before I even look back and read what I have written. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by my insight and sense of humor and sometimes I have it totally wrong and have to completely erase what I have written.  Mostly, I just find writing to be completely cathartic and enjoyable so I write for cheap personal therapy it provides me.  It also helps that I hear so many positive comments from my loyal readers too so keep sending me your feedback.  It means a lot to me.

Today will be much the same.  I am just going to write for awhile and see what happens. So it probably goes without saying that it might jump around a bit as a result.  Anyhow, here goes.  A quote that I heard at a retirement party last month that really struck a chord with me was, "You can't be lost, if you dont know where you are going".  I don't know the origin of this quote and perhaps it isn't even a famous one, but I do know that it seems very reassuring to me at this point in my life.  I often find myself feeling lost on the road of life. We have already established that I get lost easily when navigating actual streets and neighborhoods, but lately I seem to get lost in the arena of life's purpose.  I think this is primarily related to me having brain surgery a few years ago and not always knowing the best way to deal with the emotional aftermath from that whole ordeal.  The quote reminds me that since I don't yet know exactly where I want to go or what exactly I want to be when I grow up, then I am not actually lost.  I just need to spend some time sorting things out and deciding where I want to go, then I can worry about how to get there and until then I am not actually lost.  At least this is what I now tell myself. 

One little side note here.  Well actually two little side notes.  I am much more sore today than I was yesterday.  Apparently, my little acrobatic weight training workout with Super Woman had a two day pain delay.  I hear this is typical to be more sore the second day after a workout, but this is my first personal experience with this particular pain phenomenon.  At least, it is the first one I remember.  It stinks, but I will survive.  The other thing (and I am adding this after completing the post) I realize why I had so much more time to analyze stuff today.  It is because my kids are with Grandma and Grandpa and I am alone at the libary with no other human beings under my jurisdiction so we have the kids to blame for the differnt tone to this one.

Imagine having a regular boring old life. You know one with a job, a husband, a young baby, a house, a car; you get the idea. You lead a very average existence. Then imagine waking up one day and developing a severe headache that sends you to the hospital emergency room, only to learn that you have an incurable condition inside your brain that will require emergency surgery to treat and that may affect your mental acquity and physical fitness forever.  It will require significant recovery time and ongoing monitoring and ultimately it will forever change your life.  You get no choice in the matter. You get no vote about the whole ordeal. It just happens to you.  How would you deal with that?  How would you return to the same life? Could you even do it?  How would you relate to other people on a daily basis?  I have struggled with these and many other related questions for the past four years.

At the time of my surgery, I was young, active and very healthy.  I always had been healthy.  Perfect attendace was attained several years in grade school compliments of my good health and I even have the silly little certificates as proof.  The surgery rendered me temporarily useless, both mentally and physically.  For a few weeks, I really had no reassurance that everything would be fine. Fortunately for me, I endured a few months of challenging recovery and now lead a very normal, average, existence again. I am one of the lucky ones.  Most people with hydrocephalus are not nearly as fortunate as I.  Most end up in and out of hospitals with various complications.  Other than the initial intracranial hemmorhage that I suffered right after my surgery, I have been complication free.  I just knocked on wood, so no worries.  However, I can never look at headaches the same.  Now when I get a headache I am forced to worry that it might be more than just your average, garden variety, headache.  I worry that it might be a symptom of something more serious.  Wow, I just reread what I have been writing and I am getting a little emotional and dark here.  It must be my hormones or my uterus problem or a combination of both!  I am going to move on before my writing gets completey out of control.

Television, focus on the television, Veronica.  Okay, so we are still TV free at our house.  We did play bowling on the Wii last night at Jeff's parents and that was fun, but there is no television whatsoever happening inside our home.  Life is still good for the most part other than when I have too much time on my hands to think about life's purpose then I start to over analyze life and then I get stuck in a funk evidenced by today's post.  Anyhow,  I am going to get off the computer before I write something totally humiliating and don't worry I am not in need of a shrink, just a glass (or two or three) of wine and some good company.  Both of which will be found at dinner with the in-laws tonight, thank goodness!
Vern out

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mird is off the hook

Okay I didnt check the other posts before I posted mine so Mird you are officially off the hook (if you were ever even on it). Not only did you post today, but you posted twice!!! Your post today was very nice and I share the sentiment about the warmer weather.  The only part I don't like with the warmer weather is all the bloody mud that it creates which is currently being painted on my kitchen floor by muddy little shoes from my three love muffins--Kara, Aven and Hazel!
Vern Out

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I have both good and bad news to share today. As for the ugly that was just me doing squats on that balance ball yesterday!  That was definitely ugly.  I always take bad news first when I am on the receiving end of news so I am going to dole that out first simply out of habit. Then we will head onto the good news.  So here goes.  Something is wrong with my uterus.  I know, yuck.  I found out about it at my annual Gyno check-up last week.  I had been having lower abdominal pain for awhile now and had actually been to see my regular doctor about it.  He had thought it was related to my increased mileage running.  I didn’t really think that was the problem, but I also knew that I was going to see my Gyno soon so I just left it alone for the time being. 
Then at my OB appointment I told my Gyno about my constant annoying discomfort and he isolated the pain to be my uterus.  He believes it is a condition called adenomyosis, a condition which results from endometrial tissue that normally just lines the uterus actually grows into the muscular uterine wall.  There are no good tests to confirm the condition (apparently MRI, Catscan and Ultrasound are not good at picking up this type of tissue growth) so they just diagnose it based on symptoms which are basically that you feel like you are PMSing (boy I do like making up new words) non stop, your periods are heavy and irregular and your abdomen hurts intermittently.  And the worst part is the doctors don't seem to think it is a big deal.  If I was their wife they might feel differently.  I am pretty sure Jeff does think my mood swings are a big deal. 
I know. How fun does that sound for both me and Jeff?  Anyhow, unless the pain gets too unbearable, or worse yet I get too unbearable with my constant moody status, they don’t recommend any treatment other than ibuprofen when the pain is bad. If it gets really bad then the recommendation is for some ablation treatment where they use a laser to burn the lining of the uterus or in severe cases a hysterectomy is ordered up.  Neither of which sound particularly appealing to me, the lady with high pain tolerance will just live with the pain. So I think I will stick to the ibubrofen game plan for now anyways.
Seriously, enough about my uterus though.  How about some good news now!  I am not nearly as sore as I thought I would be from yesterday’s Super Woman workout! This is such a welcomed surprise.  I am just sore enough that I actually don’t notice the uterus pain at all today, but not so sore that I hate myself for yesterday’s workout.  The soreness is not so extreme that getting out of bed this morning was a struggle either.  Yes, I would say I am the absolute perfect amount of sore today. The pain does consume my quads and gluteus muscles like a macho Italian guy consumes his latest love interest. But other than that, I feel pretty good today.  I feel the kind of soreness that can only be caused by a super killer workout with a super killer instructor.  Yes yesterday’s workout was the kind of workout in which I take great pride and the fact that I can actually move today without serious discomfort is an added bonus.
On the TV front, as I predicted, Jeff failed with the romantic movie rental mission. I knew he wouldn’t pay to rent one so we did not watch anything on Valentine’s Day after all.  And the TV has been off without exception since the Superbowl so the NOTV 2011 challenge is going very well for me and my family, the one I am raising today, not the one I grew up in.  I am yet to hear from my siblings with which I did grow-up so I can only speculate that they are still involved on some level with our deal.  Hopefully we will hear back from them soon.  Miranda promised me a post some time today so we shall see if she keeps her word (no pressure Mird)


Hurray for Warmer Weather

Just a side note to my earlier blog this morning.  Holy cow thank heaven for this warmer weather!  Kenny is playing outside today for the first time in over a month.  We have had horribly cold weather and when it was actually warmer out the wind made it impossible to do anything fun outside.  Anyway he is so happy which means I am happy too :)  I am sure all you stay at home moms are feeling the same as I am today!! - mird

From the Daniels

I have decided that Vern and I pretty much married opposite men!!  While she tries to get Jeff out and about I try to find reasons why Mark should stay home! And while Jeff is bored without the TV, Mark is totally content on the computer or reading magazines all night and he is "never bored" as he informed last night when I tried to get him to play scrabble with me...and I am always bored so he claims.  So I will say Mark has been much too busy lately to watch TV so we have been totally TV free the last couple weeks, except of course our exemption forchildren who wake up before 5:30 in the morning...they still get to watch TV so that I can doze off next to them on the couch. Mark also watched the state of union address the other day but I don't even really consider that TV, I would consider that more like torture myself.  

Anyway, I have been trying to get Mark to write on the post, but he is a very busy person so it may take a while.  I would say that his life has not been altered too much from this whole thing, except that his wife bugs him more at night because she's bored more often!  Yup it's me who gets bored, not Mark, who claims he is never bored.  So usually he tries to come up with things to entertain me so I will leave him alone.  He also spends more time reading to Kenny, as our nightly TV routine has switched to books and Kenny requests Dad to read whenever he is home, and Mark realizes that there's really no use arguing with a 2 year old.  Other than that, I think he genuinely thinks we are being silly and he still enjoys his TV, but I have noticed its not as much fun for him, without me, to watch it. Either way we are still TV free here, for the most part, and it has become part of our routine at this point so I don't see it changing any time soon. - mird

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My introduction to weight training with Super Woman, I mean Becky

So it turns out that the super buff workout lady is human, not a super human immortal as I suspected she was.  She is just a normal old human being like the rest of us.  So once again I was proven wrong.  Her name is Becky and while she is not a super hero, I am convinced she is as close as you can get to a super heor without a cape or lycra body suit being involved. Becky is not only incredible to watch work out, but she is INCREDIBLE to work-out with as an added bonus she is very patient as a teacher.  And even better yet she and I have a lot in common.  We are both in our early thirties, we both like to chat and we both have kids.  We were immediately connected by some unwritten code of motherhood and thirtysomethinghood!  It was the best workout I have had in awhile.  I can honestly say that I have never lifted weights so impressively before in my life.  I could actually feel my confidence grow with each repitition.  It was in a word, awesome.  I even found myself precariously balanced standing atop one of those cool workout balls doing squats.  Yes, me, completely uncoordinated Veronica, did this.  I won't say it was pretty like Becky's squats, but I did it!  But, boy am I going to be sore tomorrow.  I suspect that the sore I feel tomorrow will be much worse than the moderate pain I felt after Sunday's snow tubing adventure.   Sunday's snow tubing pain, which set in yesterday morning, was very unexpected.  Yes it was unexpected pain because I run so much that I really didn't think walking up a hill a couple dozen times would matter.  Again I was wrong.  What can I say other than I am a humble human being so being wrong doesn't bother me too much.  The mild discomfort from the snow tubing incident is going to be soon lost anyways.  I suspect by sun up tomorrow it will be deeply burried underneath the new pain that I just created with this most recent workout.  One certainty is this; Tomorrow I will be a new kind of sore.  Likely is will be the most sore I have been since my brain surgery.  I am not scared though because I am sure that the pain will not surpass my surgically induced pain and I survived that so go ahead-- bring on the pain. Tomorrow the pain will just represent a successful first workout with Super Woman, I mean Becky.  I survived a Super Woman workout and I did squats atop a balance ball! And I only fell once.
Vern Out

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Male Perspective

Now that we have survived the most recent voyage to the library, I can continue with my male perspective on the NOTV 2011 experience.  First however, and not to obsess about the whole library thing, but seriously going there is so much work. Therefore, I just have to share a little more of today's library story in order to provide you with an appreciation for the delay in this post.  I know "going to the library" sounds like such a splendid and nice thing to do with your children.  It is educational and socially beneficial to take children to a library.  Any baffoon could deduce as much.  It is fun and joyous and so good for everyone.  It really sounds simple not unlike a walk in the park. But it is actually more like a walk in the zoo with all of the animals uncaged and fighting with one another over books and toys while various "quiet things" are trying to be performed in the zoo's lovely gift shop. Oh yeah and as an added bonus, at the library there are always several parents running about their faces strickened with different levels of panic over their respective lost children. This panic is not unlike the panic that would be felt by parents in the zoo comparison I described.  I am always the mom with the largest level of concern on my face because I not only take three kids to the library, but I try to be productive and work on the blog while I am there since we don't have internet access at home.  Yes I am "that mom", the one that everyone else looks at and says, "seriously, doesn't she watch her kids at all?"  Yeah going to the library is more like that for me.  And that is just the actual time spent at the library so much more goes into actually getting there. 

To get to the library I have to drive five miles.  That is it.  And it is a straight shot.  I actually live on the same road as the libary just five miles east of it.  Again it sounds pretty easy, doesn't it?. Getting to the libary should be no problem.  However, before I can drive anywhere we have to actually be inside our car.  That makes things infinitely more complex and challenging because two of my three children can not get to the garage and into the car on their own.  The third is easily distracted so while she is fully capable of such tasks, she rarely makes it to the car without a cattle prod being involved.  So on a good day it takes us between ten and twenty minutes to get our various belongings and ourselves safely loaded into the van.  By the time we are loaded into the van, inevitably someone has to go potty, or better yet has already gone potty. This of course, forces me to return to the house to change the individual. Or again, if I get really lucky, to allow them to use the potty. By some chance miracle, we survived all of this today and made it to the library!  Even better, a second miracle took hold and we managed to make it inside the library.  That is when and where I was for the last post when I was so rudely interrupted by Hazel's most recent table dancing.  

So now thankfully we survived the library, the kids are sleeping and I am able to pay some attention to this little matter of male perspective on the NOTV gig.  Here's what I have been able to discern (so far) from Jeff's persective on the NOTV2011 deal.  He likes that we have sex more. He loves that the sheets are being changed regularly. And he genuinely enjoys most of the fun evening activities I have created for us.  He actively participates in them without complaint and he occasionally smiles too (although he tries to hide it if he knows I am watching)!  He loathes having to try to be creative or think of things to do on his own.  And he doesn't like admitting that any of this is cool or enjoyable to him.  He likes to complain about no TV, but honestly I think he merely does this so that outwardly it appears that he doesn't think it is cool. And really he does think it is really cool.  You know how teenagers get when they are being dropped off at a sleepover or the movies and they treat mom like she is SO LAME, but really they still know she is the best person in the whole entire world.  Yeah kind of like that.  So Jeff continues to act as if the NOTV thing is really awful, unbearable even. But truthfully, I think he is enjoying the benefits of it just as much as the rest of us. 

Our kids now gauge how good a day is by the evening activities that are to be held.  Kara, our four year old, routinely checks to see what day of the week it is.  She has memorized the entire week's schedule.  Manic Monday, Taco Tickle Tuesday and the various other evening line-up events I have created.  She prefers Wednesday's (The Wacky Wild Wednesday Work-out is hard to complete with just ask Kim or Grandma and Grandpa who have been witness to the special occasion).  Yes Wednesdays are her favorites. A close second is Fart Fest Friday's, but this event can only complete with Wednesday's festivities, if we get to have pop to drink at Fart Fest and beans to eat otherwise the work-out wins every time!

So I conclude my male version of opinion (which yes as fate would have it is being written by a woman) with a few quotes from our first six weeks of television free 2011.   These have all been provided compliments of Jeff.

"It isn't as bad as I thought it would be"
"I just get bored and don't know what to do" (imagine what will happen when he retires!)
"I agree that it makes us spend more quality time together as a family"

V Out


Valentine's Day

In the spirit of this great holiday, this one is dedicated once again to my main squeeze, Jeff.  Maybe someday he will actually read some of these, and get to hear all of my great insight into life and love (and anything else random that comes to mind as I write).  Until then I just write it because today that is what moves me.

Anyhow,  I am back at the library with the kids and once again Hazel is completely enamored with the tables and chairs.  She loves them dearly.  I guess somewhere deep down in my heart, I knew the electrical outlet fascination would not last long.  It was not true love; No, it was not the real deal.  It was just the fun kind of love; the kind that comes and goes easily.  The kind that happens when you date a new and exciting guy, even if you know he is not right for you just because he is just that- fun and exciting (and if he happens to be cute that doesn't hurt either).  Hazel's love for the copy machine was just that a quick and easy, intoxicating kind of love.

Jeff and I now we have the real thing.  It isn't pretty at times, it can actually be down right ugly. But it is real.  At least I hope it is.  We have the kind of love that drives you absolutely crazy-out of your mind at times.   We annoy and irritate each other regularly. Jeff likes to pick on me, but that is just the way he shows affection.  But we do love each other. We have lasting, enduring, forever kind of love.  This is the kind of love that Hazel feels for these library chairs and tables.  It will endure.  It will last. It is forever (or at least until she turns 3)!

As for our Valentine Day date, I do not hold a lot of hope for it amounting to much more than us playing cribbage, or maybe scrabble, while we each relaxe in our respective spots.  Jeff belongs in his Lazy Boy and I on the couch.  Jeff might do scrabble in the spirit of this special day.  Yes I might get a good game of scrabble out of Valentine's Day.  Pretty lame, I know, but heck with three kids and all it gets tough to do a real night out.  In all fairness to Jeff, he did make some effort in the romantic movie department by renting Love Actually.  It was a logical choice for an alternate since he could not find the other two I had requested at the library. But I have already seen it TWICE and while I am completely in love with Hugh Grant and was totally willing to watch it a third time, Jeff does not share my affection for him. Once he learned of my history with the movie and my crush on Hugh Grant, he opted out of watching it altogether.   I guess I can't blame him. One bonus is that we won't have the TV on at all for Valentine's Day afterall. 

As an added Valentine's Day gift to you, our readers, I am going to provide as much insight into the male perspective on this whole NOTV 2011 deal as I can.  However, due to poor behavior from my kids and Hazel's immense love for these blessed tables, this will have to wait until tonight when the kids are tucked in so you will have to tune in tomorrow to hear my version of the husband's perspective. Maybe Jeff will give me some more good data tonight to help me with it anyways.
V Out

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday's Fun

Why is it that we take our children to fun places like the library to play with the toys and read the books, all they want to do is unplug the various things plugged into the wall?  I am here at the library with my two youngest kids and the only thing that is of any interest to Hazel is the copy machine and the computer plugs.  Usually she just likes climbing on the chairs and from the chairs she maneuvers onto the tables and once she summits the tables she screams at the top of her lungs.  I am sure she is just celebrating her accomplishment, but in the library it seems inappropriate to stand on tables screaming so I suppose this outlet infatuation is a slight improvement from the normal table routine.  But still I wish she would show some level of interest in the toys or books.  That would be nice especially given the amount of effort that goes into a trip to the library in the first place. 

Anyhow, we have already been to work out this morning and I met someone. Don't worry, not a guy.  I met a girl who can work out like the Incredible Hulk. Or maybe to be gender correct, she works out like Superwoman.  Seriously, I was impressed so much with her weightlifting workout that I actually went up to her afterwards and I found myself saying something I never thought I would hear myself say to anyone let alone a stranger at the gym. It sounded something like this, "I am not trying to sound creepy or anything, but I was just watching you work out and you are incredible.  How did you learn to do that?".  It didn't scare her off either. She was actually flattered that I had noticed so we are going to meet up Tuesday and she is going to show me the ropes in the weight room.  I need to be shown the ropes that much is apparent after my meager attempt at weightlifting solo this morning. I'm not even sure if I know what the ropes are in a weightroom so I definitely need to be shown how to properly operate them.  I actually lifeted weights this morning for the first time in over ten years (other than when I was a member at Curves).  If curves counts, then it was for the first time in about two months.  Anyhow, I did my workout this morning by myself and it wasn't pretty so this new Superwoman teacher will be a welcomed addition to my training schedule. 

So now we are here at the library playing with the various electrical outlets and passing the time until Kara is done with school.  Then we can pick her up and head home for lunch and a much needed hot bath.  No worries on the television front.  We remain TV free and proud to be.  I hope my siblings are as well although we rarely hear from them anymore.  Hopefully the lack of hearing form them is not due to a relapse into the world of TV.
Vern Out

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Highlights of Thursday

How long is too long to leave your kids in the bath tub?  It sounds like a silly question, but seriously, I need to know.  How long is too long?  Yesterday, I allowed my two eldest kids to swim in the tub for nearly two hours.  I think I was close, if not far surpassing, the recommended allotment of tub time.  They were just swimming so nicely together and playing without fighting which is a rarity these days that well it seemed a shame to break it up by forcing them to get out of the tub.  When I finally did persuade them to get out (which by the way I did by faking like I was sick and needed a doctor) they had both turned into wrinkly little raisins.  So my “doctors” yesterday were wrinkled like a couple of old ladies who spent far too many hours of their youth in the sun, without sunscreen.  If I broke some bath tub time limit code or rule, then I am not sorry for it  because the lengthy bath kept my kids happy and entertained for a long time. Besides, that they have never been so sparkling clean for their sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa.
Have I ever mentioned that Thursday is my favorite day of the week?  Well it is.  It is tied into the whole best in-laws in the world theory that I shared earlier.  Thursday is the equivalent of a weekend all wrapped up neatly into one splendid, wonderful, sanity-preserving, day.  Thursday really is that important; it single-handedly protects any remaining morsels of sanity that I may have.  Thursday is the day when Grandma and Grandpa are not only available, but they actually plan on, taking care of my kids.  It is a beautiful thing.  It is as close to a day off as I get and I am eternally grateful for Thursdays, and more specifically for my in-laws, as a result. Yes I do love both so much.  So I sit here at Panera enjoying what remains of my “weekend” which is about five more minutes and two sips of my coffee so I better make the most of it and get off here.  Oh and the TV remains lifeless at our house.
Vern out

20th Follower

Yes NOTV2011 finally acquired our 20th follower!  How exciting is that?  I only wish that balloons and confetti could fall from the ceiling right now!  That would make it seem more official and exciting.  If you know anyone who might be entertained with our blog, please encourage them to "follow" us.  Or even if you know someone who wouldn't be entertained, but who would just sign up as a follower that is cool too.  Send them our way.  We are just trying to get our numbers up so we are not picky about the quality of our followers.  In this particular instance, and I don't say this often, it really is quantity over quality!

On the television front things are going very well.  I continue to not watch any TV at home.  The little bit that I watch at other homes is not much.  I caught one puzzle of Wheel of Fortune a couple weeks ago after Thursday dinner at my in-laws. I was so excited at the time, but really it was no better than okay.  Now that I have not watched it in awhile the magic seems to have worn off a little. I have not watched any movies either, but I am thinking of watching either Letters to Juliet or Valentine's Day next week. This would be for our hot Valentine's Day entertainment. And it is contingent upon Jeff locating either of these movies at the local library (yes he is too cheap to rent it) and on him actually remembering my request in the first place.  So actually I probably won't end up watching a movie at all. We will probably be found playing cribbage or scrabble on Valentine's Day.  I will let you know.

I started reading, "Eat Pray Love" last night.  I am only about 8 beads into it, but it seems like it is going to be really good so I am excited about that.  Plus I really like the author's writing style so I think it could be helpful to my recent writing endeavors.  I will let you know how that all turns out too, but I suspect it will be more successful that the romantic movie date that Jeff was assigned. 

Some of my old college roomates and I might start a book club!  If you are interested in joining us, we plan to meet in Grand Rapids once a month.  The rest of the details are not worked out as of yet, but I will let you know once it is up and reading!  The book club would be welcomed for the NOTV year and possibly beyond.  I used to really enjoy reading, but then I had kids and well time to read just doesn't seem to happen.  I figure if I join a book club I would have to make the time to read. Honestly since the TV is no longer on it would probably be quite easy to fit in the reading.  I am actually read a lot in the evengings already so it would just be a matter of reading the assigned book instead. 

I also talked Jeff into played scrabble last night and I won again.  This helped to mend my wounds from the brutal beatings I have been taking at cribbage lately.  Other than that, we are just business as usual here, minus the television of course.  And life without TV is still good.
Vern Out

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Road Trips and Motherhood

Okay so I once read a quote, "motherhood is not for sissies".  I am not sure who wrote this, but I totally buy into that philosophy.  Whoever wrote that was a smart person.  More than likely the author is a smart mother.  Sissies should not become pregnant.  Pregnancy itself may kill a sissy.  Natural selection plays a role in motherhood this much I know.  And if pregnancy doesn't kill a sissy, the ongoing demands of motherhood certainly would.  A sissy wouldn't last a day as a mother.  I am not a sissy, nor a wimp.  I am pretty tough and I am not just bragging.  I have the examples to prove it.  I gave birth to all three of my kids without any drugs at any time during the births.  Heck I never even took the drugs they sent home with me afterwards.  I also ran a half marathon with wet shoes on the entire race.  It cost me two toe nails, but I never stopped or walked and I finished with a respectable time.   Not convinced yet?  Well I also survived my traumatic emergency brain surgery four years ago.  Yes I sat wide awake while the neurosurgeon drilled a hole into my head.  That one just about killed me for real, but it didn't.  And as my mother always told me "If it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger". Anyhow, I made up my own original version of the motherhood quote too while driving to Miranda's the other day.  "If motherhood is not for sissiers; then roadtrips are not for wimpy mothers".  We survived the roadtrip to Miranda's, but I will say it was not pretty.  No it was down right ugly at times.   I like roadrips when kids are napping and I am jamming to some good country music.  Even trendy top 40 music will do as long as the music is familiar to me and I can sing along.  Sleeping is what the kids should have done, but they didn't.  Other than 45 minutes on the trip home when two out of three slept, the kids were awake for the entire long four hours worth of driving.  I did let Kara watch one Barney show on her portable DVD player.  It was shortly after one of the kids asked "Are we there yet?"  for at least the ninetieth time that I snapped.  I pulled into the next rest area and started the Barney movie at once.  Kara was mesmerized by it and sat quietly for the show.  AJ was not nearly as impressed, but he did quiet down for a short time before inquiring about our distance from home again.  Other than that there have been no television or movies played for our family and the movie was honestly for safety purposes only.  If I had to listen to the kids complain or fight with each other one more time, I may have purposefully driven into the next passing semi.  Not really, but I was out of patience and desperate so the movie was a necessity.
V out 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Road Trip

Well last night plans changed as they often do when you have little ones so we just stayed home. And yes the Super Bowl was broadcast from our very own television set.  It is sad, but true. I could not talk Jeff into skipping it just this once.  With the sports exemption agreement we had, the Super Bowl was definitely part of the deal.  I am a woman of my word so I even threw together a last minute party.  Complete with home-made icecream, the incredible empanadas, home-made guacamole and cheese and crackers.  I had a leftover bottle of champagne from New Years so I also cracked that open.  For a last minute party, it was actually quite festive and the food delicious!  I actually watched very little of the game, but I did see the final few minutes so I did catch Green Bay's victory!  This morning we are busy preparing for our road trip.  We are heading to Aunt Miranda's house for a "Super Cool" sleepover.  It is sure to be almost as exciting as last night's game.  I am a little nervous for the drive since it is two full hours with all three kids in the car and me driving.  Hopefully it will go well.  You will have to tune in tomorrow to get the rest of this story.
V Out.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday! Go Packers

If you have been keeping up with the blog and the M-live articles, then you already know that couch cushions are fast becoming one of my very favorite things in the whole entire world.  If you have not been following me, then I am here to say it again, "I am in love with couch cushions".  My kids will play with them for endless hours of cheap entertainment. It really is like a circus in your living room only without the live animals and the pricey admission fee. Yes, couch cushions are my new favorite thing and the pet store may just be my new favorite place.  We just went to get some new fish for our aquarium and the kids were entertained for at least an hour just watching the turtles and the fish.  It was amazing.  It actually was a lot like television watching; They just stared at the various aquariums instead.  I really think they would have stared at the turtles forever or at least until we got kicked out of the store when it closed if we would have let them.  They were completely mesmerized by the various critters and we would probably still be there watching the many animals if it had just been me and the kids, but daddy got tired of it and insisted we head home.  Now we are busy getting ready for our Super Bowl Party later.  Yes we will be watching the game at a party.  I am glad the cooking strike ended earlier this week because I am making the most delicious empanadas in the world.  Venison and feta cheese combine with various spices to create a mouth watering, taste explosion right inside your mouth.  I kid you not they are definitely in my top five foods.  They are SO GOOD.  Go Packers let's represent for the NFC since we all know the Lions will likely never amount to a Super Bowl Team.  I am not as sore as I thought I would be so I have been house cleaning and cooking all day long while relishing in the sweet victory of yesterday's race!
Vern Out

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Busy Day

I didn’t have time to miss the television today.  I was too busy, way too busy.  It is a little after ten at night and this is the first that I have sat down all day.  The good news is Hazel slept all night last night; the bad news is she woke up at this morning and I have been going, going, going, since. 
I ran a 10K race first this morning and took first place in my age group!!  How cool is that?  Of course, there were only two people in my age group, but I still beat the other chic.  Don’t get me wrong I am still super excited to win, I just wanted you to fully understand the competition.  For my victory, I even get a cool beer mug and everything. Plus my time was pretty good for me too so you will hear no complaints from me about this particular race.  Okay maybe I will share just one complaint, there were so many damn hills on the course.  I would summit one hill only to find another pesky one hiding right behind it.  Hill after bloody hill, I made my way through the course that ran through my old hometown of Fremont.   
I am directionally challenged and always have been. Directionally retarded may actually describe me and my sense of direction better.  It is eerily similar to my natural craziness thing that I have going for me.  I am also naturally able to get lost just about anywhere.  I am actually amazed that I don’t get lost in my own house some days.  It once took me over two hours to get home from a race that was in Holland Michigan which is about 25 miles from where we live.  And no, sadly enough, I am not kidding.  It is possible that this uncanny ability to get lost is hereditary, or somehow genetically linked, because my sister, Miranda, is the same way.  She once spent two hours driving from Lansing to Sleepy Hollow State Park just outside Lansing.  She nearly went all the way to Detroit, or maybe it was Saginaw. I can't remember which one, but she gets lost easily too.  Needless to say, I didn’t drive around Fremont much growing up due to my innate ability to get lost.  So I saw several new areas of town on my run today.  It was actually a very picturesque route, just too hilly for my taste.  
I just found out this great news about the race results a few minutes ago and now I am so excited that I can’t sleep so I figured I would try to be productive and catch up on some work on the computer.  I already completed my MOPS homework and now I am catching you up on my no TV life which is going AWESOME I might add.  I can honestly say this first week of February I have not missed the TV at all.
As if running 6.2 miles this morning were not enough or a workout for the day, I decided to join my mother-in-law and two of her sisters on a skiing trip to Turks for supper tonight as well.  I know I am a glutton for punishment. But if I am to have any chance at actually completing a marathon this year, I figure I have to step up my exercise regimen significantly. The Turks ski trip would do just that which is why when I was invited it seemed like a good idea and I agreed to go. While I actually did have a great time, I now find myself seriously exhausted and somewhat questioning why I subjected myself to so much exercise today.  I have not been this tired since Hazel little teething episode last month which as we all know nearly cost me my left nipple.  At least my nipples are still in tact after today's exercise induced exhaustion.
Anyhow, when we were discussing the possibility of me joining them on the skiing adventure, my mother-in-law assured me that Turks was just two miles away.  Maybe as the crow flies, but I am pretty sure we skied at least 3 probably closer to 4 miles before I got to eat those AWESOME onion rings.  How about those Turk’s onion rings, anyways huh?  They are sinfully delicious, melt in your mouth, morsels of scrumptious onions.  I absolutely love them a whole bunch.  The fish tacos were quite good too.   Well I am afraid that I have begun just rambling about nothing important at this point in time which may be why Jeff gets annoyed with me for talking too much so I am heading to get some well deserved sleep.  Today I was too busy for TV, tomorrow I may just be too sore for anything else.  
Vern Out  

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Notebook

I am not trying to plagiarize Nicolas Sparks with the title, it just fits my particular story I plan to share this morning.  So last night, as Jeff and I often find ourselves these days, we were playing a heated game of cribbage.  I mentioned that I have been learning to play cribbage in my long dissertation on marriage yesterday.  Anyhow, we were just sitting there playing cribbage.  We were in the middle of game number two. I had already lost one game earlier and to be honest for a quiet guy, Jeff was getting a little cocky about his cribbage playing skills.  I was getting slightly annoyed with him for his constant bragging and mockery.  I can't wait until we go back to Scrabble for a few days.  Then we will see who is the true champ! So there I was in the midst of losing yet another game to Jeff when he said the magical little words to me, "oh I got a notebook to record the official scores. Grab the bag, it's on the counter".   I realize to you these words don't seem to be all that exciting, but to me the news was exciting, wonderful, life-altering even.  I was so excited you would have thought I just won the lottery.  In my mind, I just hoped that he remember to get me my own notebook.  We had talked about notebooks a few nights before during a previous cribbage dual.  At that time, I had requested a little notebook for myself.  I wasn't sure if he actually paid attention to my prior request so I was just hoping that he somehow remembered me too!  Anyhow, I grabbed the bag of goodies off the counter and looked inside to find not just one single notebook, but two beautiful, glorious tiny notebooks!  They were perfect.  The notebooks were just the right size, compact, but still holding many pages  Now at this point, you are probably wondering why in the world I got so excited over a little notebook.  Well you will be happy to know, it really is for your benefit too.  You see, I have all these great ideas of stuff to write about while I am out and about with the kids and then when I get home I can never remember them.  Now when I am struck with a brilliant thought while chilling at the library, I can jot it down in my perfect green (which is my favorite color) notebook all because Jeff remembered me.  Well he almost remembered me. He had actually gotten the second one with Scrabble records in mind, but he agreed to let me have it once he saw my eyes light up with excitement over the little green one!  And if you hadn't already guessed, the TV has still been off at our house!
V Out

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A question for the audience

Maybe its the weather....or the Spartan Basketball Team's lack of performance......or maybe its the busy school year starting to catch up with me; whatever the reason I have not been on here in quite some time, but rest assured I am still in the words of Kramer "Master of my domain."  TV free for over a month and still surviving.  If you ask my wife lately I have a new obsession that is just as bad as TV...and it actually involves the TV.  We have been playing the Wii a lot lately, and has lead me to ask the question "is the Wii the same as TV?"  I think I will have to poll the audience here to determine if this is allowable or not.  Technically the Wii plugs into the TV and it involves staring at a screen, but because of its physcial nature I had categorized the Wii as a workout rather than a Veg-Out session.  Still, I have noticed the same "cravings" to turn on the Wii everytime I walk past it...which is similar to TV.  Hmmm, what do you think???

I Lied (not about TV though)

I lied and I am sorry for that.  It’s not as bad as it sounds though.   I didn’t cook up some grandiose scheme or fabricate some intricate story to share with you.  I didn’t assemble together a completely made-up, hair brained story just to make our blog more interesting.  No it was a some what smaller lie.  Not even a full blown white lie, I wouldn't say.  It was more of an embellishment really, or a slight stretching of the truth. I guess I shared it in the heat of the moment and didn’t think about the story long and hard enough.  I may not have even noticed it, if it weren’t for my addiction to the NOTV2011 blog.  I sometimes go back and reread past posts and yesterday when I was doing just that I noticed it.  The lie was right there all along and the worst part about it was that it was part of my confessions from the first month.  I lied in a confession.  I may be headed straight to hell when I leave this life.
Anyhow, I guess I have to tell you about it now.   I can’t hardly leave you without the rest of the story or you will swear off this blog altogether.  Basically, when I said that Jeff and I were “getting along better than ever” and “having sex more often than ever” that was a bit of an exaggeration.  I really made us sound like a couple of newlyweds didn’t I? And we aren’t.  I suppose people who know us well probably already realized this and had discounted my comments accordingly, but for those of you who do not, we are still no better than the average couple in both departments.  So a more accurate statement would have sounded more like this, “Jeff and I are working on our relationship and we have sex lately more often than we had in the past three years”.  I guess in my haste to make the first month sound exciting, positive and successful, I inadvertently made my relationship with Jeff sound the same.  We are really just your average everyday, married for seven years, couple. Nothing fancy about us at all except that our sheets are getting changed once a week this year!
Marriage is really tough. It is tougher than it should be.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but to me it seems like we marry the single person in this world that is able to irritate us the very most.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Are we trying to sabotage our marriage from the very beginning by marrying someone who irritates us so naturally?  Or maybe, because we marry a person and we have to spend so much time with that person and share space with each other that is why we irritate each other so much.  I don’t know.  Either way, I irritate Jeff a lot and he does the same to me.  And regardless of what I have reported in past confessions, Jeff and I are still irritating each other at our usual rate of about two to three times a week if not more often. But the nice thing about not having TV is that we actually talk a little bit more about these irritations and about other things.  I want to make sure this is completely accurate so I emphasize the “little” in that last sentence.  We still do not have long drawn out conversations, but at least we are talking more now than we were when we just watched TV all night.
It is nice to talk to the person you marry.  I would even go so far as to say you should probably like talking to the person you marry.  Jeff is not a talker. And that is the understatement of the year. Jeff would probably be perfectly content to just coexist in our house and never have to talk to me again. I have to remind myself that it is nothing personal.  Jeff just doesn’t like to talk to anyone very much, but it is hard sometimes to not take it personally. 
I, on the other hand, I am, a natural talker.  I am long winded.  I ramble at times and sometimes not even about important stuff.  I simply love to talk and interact with others.  I guess you could say I am a social butterfly and Jeff a social idiot.  So this communication imbalance is oftentimes the root of my frustrations with our relationship and I suspect it frustrates Jeff at times too. The fact that we are forced to talk more without the TV is an added bonus in my eyes.  Although Jeff may see it differently, but if he does he doesn’t talk about it.  Enough about that marriage stuff; it’s getting a little heavy for our fun little blog.
Well one of the other enjoyable things we have been up to is playing scrabble and cribbage.  And this is a completely true story.  There are no embellishments at all.  Jeff is teaching me how to play cribbage.  About a week ago he went on Scrabble strike and refused to play anymore at least for awhile he said.  He was burned out and I couldn’t blame him. We had played a lot of scrabble and I had won all except for one game. 
I headed to the basement in search of alternative entertainment and found his old cribbage board.  I had never played cribbage, but my parents used to when I was little so I at least knew what it was.  That is where my knowledge ran dry however.  I was a cribbage idiot.  At the time, I knew none of the many rules and none of the strategies involved with this complex game.  To be honest, I didn’t even know cards were involved with it.  That is how ignorant I was.  I was, however, smart enough to recognize the potential entertainment value that this offered to us during our year of no television.  I quickly dusted it off and brought it upstairs. My eyes were filled with excitement as I asked Jeff to teach me.  I worried that he would not want to, but to his credit he jumped on board right away.  This was likely because he still is bored at times.  Jeff has patiently spent many hours as my faithful cribbage teacher.  I am finally getting a grasp of the many intricacies of this game.  I am by no means an expert, but I did actually win a game the other night.  While I could be wrong, I don’t think he let me win it either.  However, the tables have turned from our scrabble playing days, as the official cribbage score is 4 to 1 in Jeff’s favor. 
I am eternally grateful for the springboard that NOTV 2011 has offered to our family and to my marriage.  We really are interacting with each other more and having a lot of fun without our TV.  I am optimistic that by year’s end maybe my little lie will actually be true and today’s apology will have been unnecessary.  For now, I leave you with the wise words of my late great-grandfather, “Love One Another”.
Vern Out