Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Thursday, March 31, 2011

365 tv-free things to do with your child

A friend mailed me a book yesterday!  What a special, surprise treat that was for me!  The title, "365 tv-free things to do with your child" what a nice way to support out NOTV2011 mission!  I have already gotten three ideas of things to do this spring and I am only a few pages into it!  I can't wait to read more of it and hatch out some more great plans for us; plans that won't include the television set.

Right now I am busy nursing two sick kids back to health.  It was another night spent mostly in our La-Z-Boy chair.  I find it very challenging to try to snuggle with two kids simultaneously; I have two legs so it seems like it should work out okay, but somehow it does not.  I also have a sore neck today which I am sure somehow is related to the sick kids and all the time spent in the chair, or to the spin class I tried out Tuesday.  Either way my neck is sore.

For now, I am going to go snuggle with Hazel since she is the youngest and AJ wants to snuggle with Grandma anyways!  At least it is Thursday and Grandma and Grandpa are helping me out!

Vern Out 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Great wolf lodge

Instead of watching television this weekend, we have been busy watching people.  People watching can be very interesting and entertaining.  This is especially true when, like us, you're at The Great Wolf Lodge.  I suppose this is probably true at any similar venues like amusement parks, circuses and freak shows.  Perhaps the most interesting and shocking things I have been witness to this weekend are the rare, bizarre and down right weird things that people will permanently ink all over their bodies; yes, the tattoos have been the most intriguing part of my people watching so far.  Over the course of the past twenty four hours, I have seen every animal conceivable to mankind painted on every part of the body, even the parts that should remain hidden.  I have seen every quotable saying imagineable again prominently displayed in ink in the strangest locations on people's bodies.  And every branch of the military has been well represented on various peices of skin artwork as well.  Yes, the tattoo work on display at the Great Wolf Lodge this weekend has been spectacular.  It is impressive especially to the untattooed individual such as myself.  It is both impressive and disgusting all at once. Unfortunately, even parts of the body that should not be visible to the public are proudly on display here outfitted with tattoos. It is seriously mind boggling to see all the tattoos here.

The Great Wolf Lodge is a great little place for a close to home vacation.  The water park is spectacular.  The slides are diverse;  there really is one for everyone-- even Hazel has been sliding!  The ropes to climb are so much fun and they teach the kids basic climbing skills, coordination and problem solving.  AJ loves them and so do I!  The hot tub is, of course, a huge hit with my kids since we already spend so much time in the tub at home and the Cub Club craft and play room is great for little kids.  AJ could play there all day with their trucks and blocks made from real trees.  The The story time at the end of the night is quaint and fun filled for the kids.  It is so popular that you better go early or you won't get a good view.

Anyhow, I can't say the television has not been on at all this weekend since there are March Madness games going on we have watched some.  At this point in the March Madness, madness I have decided to cheer for Butler so go bulldogs!  The kids have also gotten a sponge Bob fix as well.  However, I can say that we have spent most of our time otherwise engaged with the other various activities.

Vern Out

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Thank goodness it's Thursday!  I am sure most of you don't hear those words too often, but for me thursday is my weekend all rolled up into one beautiful, wonderful, glorious day.  After yesterday's trials and tribulations, I really needed a bit of a break today.   And low and behold Thursday arrived this morning with all of its promise for better times.  On Thursdays, Jeff's parents plan to have our kids for the day each week unless they are vacationing out of town so it is as close to a day off as I get these days and I make the most of them.  Sometimes I do miss those little gold colored time-off request slips from the county; those don't exist anymore for me.  I still keep Hazel with me for most of the day Thursday, but if I have errands to run or stuff to do they will take her too!  So the fact that today is Thursday just might allow me to survive without the television again today since I will be running all of my errands for the week in the next few hours.
Vern Out

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why did I give up TV again?

Have I mentioned before that this NOTV deal is infinitely worse when kids are sick?  I mean it is unbelieveably wretched to not have a television when your kids are sick. Imagine it.  I know it is scary, but try to think of life with a sick child or two and no television for them, or more importantly for you!   I believe that I have mentioned this before and, if not, just to clarify a bit further it is so much WORSE without television when the kids are sick. 

Right now Hazel is teething, Kara has a nasty cold and thankfully AJ is healthy. And while normally as Meatloaf so aptly noted, "two out of three ain't bad". When it is two unhappy kids who don't feel well out of three kids total--then two out of three pretty much stinks--it stinks worse than the rotten egg that was accidently squished in Charlotte's Web; yes it stinks much worse than that at our house today! 

The worst part of all with this situation is that we are supposed to leave to Great Wolf  Lodge in less than forty eight hours for our annual Christmas vacation trip with Jeff's family.  Instead of doing gifts, we do a trip to celebrate our family and spend quality time together.  We have already had to postpone the trip twice due to other stuff so that is not really an option.  Right now I am not sure that such as thing as "quality time" exists with Kara or Hazel, unless sitting uncomfortably in a chair with one of them sleeping restlessly on top of you counts.  But I suppose we shall see how it goes. 

Anyhow we have managed somehow to make it through the day thus far without resorting to the television to entertain.  I am honestly not sure how it got to be three already.  We have read, played cars, taken two baths, eaten lots of snacks and cleaned the basement. The basement cleaning was of sheer necessity because with all the rain of recent, it decided to leak again today just to add insult to injury.  In case you were wondering, cleaning a basement with two sick kids is no fun either. I'd rather be watching TV or doing just about anything else.

Vern Out

Monday, March 21, 2011

This past weekend

This past weekend was in a word, perfect!   It started out with The Boyfriend musical at Evergreen Ministries which was very cute.  I am always impressed with their talent.  I was most impressed with Brandi's performance and that of the maid.  The maid's solo was fantastic!  Then I headed straight to Mega 80's night at the intersection.  I danced for four hours straight and was so completely exhausted by the end of the night, but it was so fun that it was totally worth it!  

Saturday morning, I found myself too tired and sore to actually move let alone run to pancake breakfast so I took the day off from all activity other than a short mile run with Kara at the Aquatic Center.  She LOVED it!  So I am so thankful that we did that.  We hardly ever get time together with just us so it was a special treat. She said, "It was the most fun I have ever had!" 

Then Sunday I volunteered at the Indoor Triathlon at the Aquatic Center.  My job was to count laps for the participants at the running stage.  It was very cool.  I was glad for the opportunity to give back.   Next year I plan to compete in it not just watch.  Afterwards I had enough leftover time to fit in a four mile run of my own before heading home to hang out with the family.  Kara and I made dinner together and it turned out really good (thanks Loretta for the inspiration for this one--sausage, peppers Penne pasta and sauce!).  Miranda, Kenny and Cody came to dinner and played for a few hours too which was the icing on the top of our perfect weekend cake.  Once again I found myself far too busy to even miss television at all this weekend although I was stuck listening to its sounds for the better part of yesterday afternoon as Jeff watched the March Madness games.  Oh well that will all be over soon!

Vern Out

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Still reading

March is reading month in Kara's school maybe it's a national thing I am not sure.  But anyhow, we have been reading a lot more than ever before as a result.  I have still been reading a lot at night too.  I am reading The Last Lecture and The Reader right now.  Both are quite good.  They are very different, but both good reads.

The TV remains off other than the occasional March Madness game.  I will say that I do not like the new format where half the games (including the current MSU game) are not on regular network television, but are aired only on cable stations.  We never did have cable and the year without TV is no exception so we can not watch it. We are stuck listening on the radio and I really hope that they can pull off this major comeback.  I like to watch the Spartans play especially in March Madness games so having to just listen is a bit sad to me.  Right now I miss TV. 

Anyhow, I am going to watch The Boyfriend, a musical, at Evergreen Ministries tomorrow and then I am hoping for a repeat on the Mega 80's night afterwards.  If all goes well that is the plan which is a super fun night that and doesn't involve a television set at all.

Vern Out

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring has sprung

This wonderful weather sure makes the lack of television even more enjoyable!  I have not missed the TV at all of late.  I do still hate this trying to get organized deal that I added to my plate, but I am still working on it. One day at a time right?  It kind of feels like I am a recovering alcoholic--I guess I am just a recovering disorganized mess instead.

We have been outside non stop whenever we have been home the past two days.  I am glad that my siblings finally checked in on the blog and that for the most part they are still along on the no television voyage with us.  I am going to be a guest speaker at Rebel's classroom in the morning so I have stuff to do to be prepared for that.  The topic is animal handling and restraint and I plan to get Stan vaccinated while I am at it so hopefully Mr. Smith's class is ready for some fun hands on work!

Vern Out

State FFA Convention

As the Agriculture Teacher at Fremont High School I am also in charge of the FFA Chapter (formerly Future Farmers of America).  Last week was our annual State FFA Convention in Lansing.  This three day event brings students from all across the state to the campus of M.S.U. to compete in contests, recognize outstanding young people and make some new friends.  It makes for a lot of long days and short nights but is definitely one of the highlights of the year.  I was especially fortunate this year to have a great group of students who were nominated for some big awards.  It was an emotional roller coaster filled with laughter and tears.  I didnt really think about it till I got back home, but for those three days I didnt even miss TV.  Not that I have been watching a lot of TV (I would say I am still 95% TV free) but I didnt miss it at all.  The message for me is that the times in your life you are going to remember are likely not going to be time spent watching TV.  I will admit, I remember exactly where I was and the TV I was watching on 9-11, and I still get chills when I watch Kerri Strug (spelling) hit the vault with a broken leg to win a US Gold Medal.  But, most of the memories I want to remember are spent interacting with people.  So, as the year continues along, I will strive to spend more time with the people I love involved in worthwhile activities. 


Monday, March 14, 2011

Still Watching

Still watching the blog (bet ya thought I was talking about the TV).  It has been quite a while since I posted, but like Mird I thought I better stop the rumors. I am watching some TV.  I'm doing a lot of other stuff too.  Milling flour, baking bread, starting the garden and cooking.  Had a big St. Patty's day feast last Saturday. It turned out great.  Ivar's in a new job, working very odd hours so our schedule has been way off lately.  I have been doing lots of hiking and shopping.  Off to Phoenix next week for work. Domid

The Last Lecture

Since giving up television we spend a lot more time reading.  I have read eight books and I am working on my ninth one, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  I actually read it once and I am reading it for a second time.  It is one of those books that has so much wisdom to pass along to readers that you have to take the time to really dissect it as you read otherwise you miss some important stuff.  Of all the books I have recently read, this one has been the most thought provoking and inspiring.

What would you do if you learned you have just months to live?  That is the million dollar question that is raises.  Would you take on such a big assignment as performing a Last Lecture at a well reknowned university like Randy? Or would you just party like a rock star without a care in the world?   Or perhaps you would try to fit both in to you last days.  Either way, think about that question this morning.  It will probably lead to good things.

The book works to solidify why I wanted to do NOTV2011 in the first place; I wanted to make the most of my time and to be more productive and most importantly I wanted to be more passionately involved with my kids.  I believe it is working on all fronts.  The kids and I have a great routine in place that no longer involves the use of the television whatsoever.  We do spend much more quality time together (tub side tea parties, icicle picking, going to car parades just outside our house and much much more). I am getting more organized than I was and I hope to someday actually be able to actually label myself as "organized" by mainstream standards.  I am much more productive without television in my life.  I think about all that I get done in the evenings now and I wonder how I ever fit television in to my busy schedule.

One of the best quotes in the book was by Walt Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it!" The quote is so simple, yet so powerful at the same time.  Of course as the book points out, you also have to be willing to do the work that makes your dreams possible.  So first I dreamed of life without television and now I am working hard doing it.  NOTV2011 feels like the right thing for me to be doing, or maybe more accurately said it seems like the right thing for me to not be doing.

Anyhow, we have a busy weeks scheduled full of many activities, none of which involves a television, so you may not hear from us as regularly but rest assured that we are not watching television more than likely we are reading a good book!
Vern Out

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Daniels Are NOT having a TV marathon!

Just wanted to get on here and set Vern straight!  we are not having a TV marathon here at the Daniels...I simply found that if I sit down after the kids go to bed and watch the wheel for 30 minutes I am a happier person...there I said it the TV makes me a happier person!  and if I let Kenny watch one show when we get home so I can shower after work (please keep in mind I work at a greenhouse and am get totally filthy almost everyday) then I am also a happier person...and I figure if I get to cheat so does Kenny :)  so yes we have been cheating...for 30 minutes a day each.  I actually sat down to watch TV the other day...I was going to veg for an hour or two and watch crazy TV...and I couldn't find anything I actually thought was worth I went and got my book and read for a couple hours...I am almost finished reading 'pocohontas' - did anybody else know that even though she was in love with john smith and john smith was in love with her, they never ended up together? I guess its been a while since I've seen the disney movie I just kinda rememebered them getting together at the end...anyway just had to set the record straight and I will do my best to get on here more often, although with the greenhouse season officially underway it may be a while...peace out - mird

Status Quo

We are maintaining the status quo in our no television world!  Yesterday was our only departure into the world of television in order to watch the Spartans.  It was again painful for me to see them lose so badly in the second half.  They looked like a totally different team after half time and it was not a good thing.  Anyhow, with March Madness right around the corner, unfortunately our house is going to broadcast more television in the next two weeks than we have in the entire year to date.  Then after the Final Four we will return to our quiet life.  Anyhow, we are still chugging along without television.  Jeff was crowned the Euchre Champion last night at his parent's annual euchre tournament so he has a big head today about that!  I don't think I will play Cribbage with him any time soon; I hope to talk him into Scrabble tonight instead so I can rack up a win.  I am not feeling very ambitious today and that probably has something to do with the amount of wine I drank last night. 

Vern Out

Friday, March 11, 2011

Too busy to miss the tube

We were much too busy the past couple of days to miss the television.  We worked out this morning.  I ran a little over two miles and then I did yoga for the very first time.  It was better than I thought it would be.  I actually really enjoyed the stretching.  It felt really good and the relaxation part is probably good for me since I am always on the go and rarely stop to catch my breath and I am always doing three things at once.  To that end, we have been to the library, we went swimming at the aquatic center pool (twice),  we took a bunch of old clothes to the Goodwill to donate them (I am hoping this helps to reduce the amount of asexual clothing reproduction that is going on in our basement) and we bought a new blue fish at the Meijer pet department for Grandma's office. His name is Blueberry in case you were wondering and he is a Beta fish.  We also have finished sorting the clothes bins and we started on our next project (cleaning the fridge).  So all in all, I would say everything is going very well.  So far the reduction of clutter has not pushed me over the edge. It is going as well as possible given my limited organizational talents. I am still working out and the television is still off. 

Right now I am actually watching the MSU game on television at my in-laws. It is the first Spartan game of the season for me.  March Madness starts soon so unfortunately there will be some TV at our place again.  This is only allowable in order that I remain married; it was part of the NOTV 2011 deal I made with Jeff. I am a woman of my word so I can't back out now.  GO GREEN!!!  SPARTANS RULE!!!

Vern Out

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My first day of lent

I spent my lent time yesterday trying to organize bins of kids clothes that seem to reproduce asexually in my basement;  they seem to keep growing in number exponentially and I have no idea how.  Being that I have a biology background in education, I have surmised that they must reproduce asexually; that is the only logical answer to this mystery.  One thing occured to me as I sorted through the clothes, I am still not good at keeping things systematic so I didn't make as much progress as I would have had Brandi, my pathologically organized friend, been there.  Even her garbage is neat and orderly!  I did okay for me though and I only have two more bins to finish some time today.  Since it is Thursday, the day when Grandma and Grandpa help with the kids, I should be able to finish this project. So day one I ran five miles, didn't watch even a second of television and I accomplished my first organizing project (almost).

I am a worrier.  Yes I worry far too much.  I wish I could be like Jeff in this area too.  Jeff is not only a sleeping expert, but he is able to not worry about stuff like no one I've ever known (unless it is involves the new house, then he is a perpetual worrier), but generally speaking he just assumes everything will be fine.  He never worries that the kids will fall down the stairs, or that dinner won't turn out.

After I posted my declaration about my lent organization mission, I realized that I might be offending someone by partaking in lent even though I have no religion foundation to ground my lent experience.   For me, my first lent is not so much a true religious experience, it is more of kick in the butt to hopefully get myself organized for once in my life.  As an added bonus, I do read one passage out of the bible each morning and I do pray regularly that I will have the stamina and devotion to follow through on my organization lent experience.  I figure if this works I may convert to some religion that does partake in lent regularly because if I can actually get organized, it will be nothing short of a spectacular, life-altering miracle. 

Anyhow, I worried a lot about this last night. Even as I watched Hello Dolly and was completely mesmerized by the show quality (check it out at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre), I occassionally caught myself worrying about this.  I didn't worrry a lot at the show, but a couple of times I caught myself thinking about it.  I still enjoyed the show immensely. The costumes are reason enough to buy tickets if you ask me!  It was much better than any television show that exists today, even Wheel of Fortune.   The worry was all because I was concerned that I might upset the very religious people who devoutly practice lent each year, and if I did offend you, I am truly sincerly sorry.  I  meant no disrespect and to be honest another one of my flaws is that I don't always think things through before I dive into making them happen which is probably the case with this one, but the end result may be a new system of organization at our house which has been needed forever.  Anyhow I don't know all of the rules of lent, so if one of them is that you should not participate if you do not belong to a religious sect that actually encourages it, then I am sorry for breaking this rule. 

For now I am television free, taking a recovery day in the marathon training world, and I am hoping to finish sorting the clothes in our basement to keep on track with my lent goals.

Vern Out

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My First Lent!

I am 34 years old and participating in my first ever lent.  I am not Catholic so I don't feel too bad that I have not experienced this before.  We are still TV free at our house. I still have not heard from my siblings despite my encouragement to get them to write.  I will just keep picturing my ideas of what they are up to.  I did talk to Dominca yesterday and she said she is watching some television.  I think SOME means whatever TV she wants which honestly is okay with me.  I dreamed this crazy little thing up and so I don't expect others to be so excited about it as I still am.  I have added the mission of getting more organized to my already full plate; the plate that lacks TV and includes a rigorous marathon training regimen.  I know, I am a gluten for punishment!  I must give credit where it is due so thanks to Katie Eisenberger for inspiring this most recent undertaking! Thanks to your brilliant idea, I am also participating in my first ever lent by organizing one thing each day.  Today it is bins of clothes in the basement.  This does have the added bonus of entertaining me without TV!
Vern Out

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Siblings

They were warned and now here it is.  The anticipated update on my siblings is about to begin.  Most of this is sheer speculation, but I don't think I am too far off the mark.  Hopefully this will prompt some of them to get on here and provide their own, more accurate, NOTV updates. In order to keep this as systematic as possible since I am helplessly disorganized, I am going to do this in age order oldest to youngest.

The VanKotens are probably far too busy working and making homemade bread and pasta to bother with such a lowly task as writing for the blog.  Plus lets face it Dominica is not the best writer, she is much better with numbers than she is with words so she probably dreads writing instead of looking forward to it like I do.  So the VanKotens are probably feasting on their most recent batch of pasta and bread, drinking a glass of wine while watching American Idol or Survivor instead of writing to let us know how they are doing.  I do know for a fact that Dominica has been watching idol she confessed to me in a recent email.

The Smiths are probably too busy molding the future generations of this great country to take time to write for the blog.  When Rebel does make the time, I think everyone can agree that he is an entertaining writer.  Any free time that they have is spent preparing for the Wii olympics; they are hoping to qualify for the 2012 games.  They are also busy seaking corporate sponsors for their team!

The Daniels are probably still recovering from this past weekend.  Mark had a few too many beers to be up for anything as ambitious as writing which means that Miranda had to take care of the kids solo.  Therefore, I fully expect an update from them later today to set me straight on this fabrication that I am about to spew out.  Mird has been cheating on the NOTV deal; I don't know to what level, but I do know that she has been watching Wheel of Fortune which is a little upsetting to me since I still find myself occasionally experiencing terrible withdrawls at seven in the evening myself.  In my mind, I envision them watching television all the time.  I see them living out my television marathon dream, but I doubt that is really how it is.  I just hope that if my Wheel Watcher number is drawn Mird still gives me a call so I can claim my fabulous vacation!

We are still TV free here at our place.  Jeff did tune into the MSU game, but let's face it, I really didn't miss too much by not seeing that one.  I did watch the last few minutes to see them blow their chance at a spectacular comback which was heartbreaking enough to have watched the entire game would have been sheer torture.

Vern Out

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Building a Home

We are in the preliminary stages of building a house.  For those of you who have undergone this process before, I am sure you are feeling sorry for me right now and for those of you who have not I would not recommend it unless you are an extremely patient person.  We had the initial meeting with the architect a few weeks ago (remember I needed an extra shot of coffee to keep me awake!) and now we are awaiting the fruits of that meeting, blueprints. 

In the meantime, Jeff is completely consumed with the house building stuff.  He checks out new books from the library each week and he actually reads them.  I suspect this is largely due to the fact that we are still TV free.  I find myself making deals to get out of reading the books myself.  I am still trying to be a smidge interested in this house building stuff at all.  Miranda recently informed me that she and Mark picked out their entire house in less than thirty minutes; I was completely jealous. We spent thirty minutes just listening to toilet rep at the Home and Garden show advocate for different toilet options last night. And that stunk.  I actually started laughing out loud half way through his well rehearsed presentation.  Jeff was humiliated. I just found the entire thing far too comical to keep a straight face.

I had never been to a Home and Garden show and honestly I hope I never have to go back.  If we build the house during this year, then I think I will be spared from a repeat of the event. For that reason alone, I find myself praying that somehow we get this thing built this year.  Anyhow, at the show I realized that I am not really expo material.  Allow me to explain.  I don't like large crowds unless it is a large crowd standing around waiting for a race to start, then I love crowds because I mingle with the people and talk about running or exercising in general.  However, I felt no need to mingle and talk about bricks or flooring options.  I am far too ignorant to hold a decent conversation about anything related to a house anyways.  I also don't like to wait because I am not very patient. Even at races I find myself impatient for the gun to sound.  And it turns out I am just not that interested in house building stuff. I am trying to get interested, but seriously how many kitchens and bathrooms do I have to look at before we get this thing started?  At least I got lots of good candy, some chip clips, a bunch of pens and some new reusable shopping bags!  The freebies became my mission for much of the night which at least motivated me to check out each booth thoroughly; you can miss the good stuff if you just hurry along to each booth.

I already fell in love with my bathtub during our last outing and actually, for all my complaints about the Home and Garden Expo, I fell in love there too!  This time I fell in love with a kitchen island that was constructed by Benchmark Wood Studio for a parade of homes house. They selected it as their display item for the Expo and I know why.  Because It was perfect, absolutely beautiful and well built.  The front island section was linen white colored with chocolate glaze over it to give it an antiqueish appearance.  Plus it had a dark colored wooded raised bar built on the back side of it that comfortably sat five, a spacious book shelf and lots of creative cupboards and drawers.  The coutertops were a beautiful pattern of hard surface.  I absolutely love everything about this kitchen island.

So if I was in charge of the house building project we would have an awesome jacuzzi bathtub and this beautiful kitchen island for our house and the rest would work itself out.  The other stuff is inconsequential  anyhow right?  In all seriousness I love these two items and if we somehow worked them into the house plans I would live with whatever Jeff came up with to compliment them. 

Since we spent our anniversary weekend (last weekend) at Devos Children's Hospital instead of skiing up north, my parents insisted on taking our kids for this weekend.  I didn't argue. A weekend without kids and with absolutely nothing planned was such a great gift.  Thanks mom and dad!  So Friday night's entertainment was the Home and Garden Show and dinner at Kitchen 25 (Yum by the way highly recommend it!) and tonight I am hitting the Mega 80's scene at the Intersection!  I can't wait for that.  Entertainment without TV is really good this weekend.  Jeff is going to watch the MSU basketball game later today since we have not watched any this season and it is a spartan sports event it meets the criteria for sports exemption for him.  I will likely soak in our crappy old bath tub in preparation for tonight's festivities!
Vern Out   

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 2nd, 2004

I know that 2004 was seven years ago. I didn't make an error typing. And I am not undergoing some kind of mid-life crisis experience that caused me to flash back to a time before I turned thirty.  I am totally cool with my age.  I am actually much happier now than I was seven years ago or ten years ago for that matter.  And for once my typing was flawless.  I just wanted to recognize the special date in my life.  Yesterday was our seven year anniversary; Yes, Jeff and I have been married seven years. 

During this time we have been through a lot.  I realize that in the big scheme of marriages seven years is a relatively short marriage, but we have been through a lot for such a young marriage.  We already added three beautiful children to our family.  Sadly we also experienced a miscarriage in between our first and second child as well.  Anyone who has ever had a miscarriage knows the intense loss that goes with it.  That was a tough time too, but fortunately we got pregnant with Aven a month later.  We endured my brain surgery and we are working on my recovery from this too (at least I am and Jeff is being understanding about it so I guess that counts as working on it).  It really is a process to recover from something as traumatic as brain surgery so I am in the process of dealing with it.  During our marriage, we've had more disagreements than agreements it seems and we don't always see eye to eye on the important stuff.  It has been a rough road in a lot of ways, but the road has also been full of so many blessings; Kara, Aven and Hazel are the greatest of these!

There is a so called "seven year itch" and perhaps I have been going through this rite of passage recently.  Jeff has been more annoying to me over the past few months than ever before.  I sometimes wonder how I ended up with him at all?!  At times, he can be so self centered and brash with me that I truly wonder what ever attracted me to him some eight plus years ago.  Yes it sometimes gets that bad. Call it a seven year itch, or call it whatever you like to call it, but he has been on my nerves lately. 

Maybe he feels the same way about me.  He probably does; with my messed up uterus of recent, and all of my prior hormonal imbalances caused by child bearing and breast feeding I am certain that living with me has not been easy. I will say this in my defense, I do the special little things for him (notes in his lunch pail, love messges at work, I write little poems for him and special "favors" etc) and I do these things even when I am an emotional train wreck; Jeff does not, at least not nearly as often.

But then when I am at my wits end, Jeff will do something like he did last night and I feel the love again.  Last night, Jeff was just hanging out playing with the girls after we finished dinner and our Wacky Wild Wednesday Workout of course.  And I was reading books to the AJ (yes since the TV went black he would rather read than play at night) and all of a sudden in a quiet voice Jeff announced that he had something special to read!  I'll admit it. I was hoping for something nice for our anniversary.  He fumbled around in his coat pocket and pulled out a very used and very abused piece of scrap paper.  Nothing about the paper was pretty.  I could tell he was a little nervous which made it all the sweeter and then he started reading.  His first statement was an introduction explaining that these are all the reasons I love Mommy.  The very first thing on the list was that he loves Mommy because she puts up with me!  The rest of the list was just as sweet.  He had tears in his eyes; just little ones, but for Jeff who rarely shows emotion, it was a big deal.  His sincerity was unwavering. 

Anyhow, after seven years I can still say I love that man and all his imperfections and annoyances as well.  Hopefully, he feels the same about me after hearing his list last night I believe he does!  I just wish he would say so more often.  He even followed up with a candle light back rub after the kids went to bed!  Needless to say, the television was not necessary to entertain last night we had each other!

Happy Anniversary to us!

Vern Out

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back to Normal

Today feels like we are close to being back to normal.  It feels good.  We went to workout first thing this morning which is pretty much a staple in our lives these days.  That felt REALLY good.  I do LOVE the Spring Lake Aquatic Center; it is the best workout place I have ever had the privilege (why do I always have to look up the proper spelling of that word?  It is the same with diarrhea; I always have to look that up too. After all my years working in animal shelters I should be able to spell that in my sleep.) Anyhow I feel privileged to be a member.  So I just want to take one second to say "thanks" one more time to that benevolent stranger who helped us to become members.  I really, really, really appreciate his kindness so much.  I wish I could give him a big hug as a show of gratitude because I am a hugger.  I love to hug people to show my appreciation and compassion.  Every time I go to work out, I think about how it would not be possible if not for his true compassion.  And every time  I think of not going to work out because I don't feel like it, I remember this stranger too and I push myself to go so I get the most out of our membership.  So in a weird way this person, whom I do not even know, is my greatest inspiration to train and run these days.  His kindness motivates me greatly!

We have already spent at least an hour reading this morning.  Now we are playing cars and trains.  And in a little while we are going to make a big pot of white chicken chili.  We are making Aunt Kristi's recipe which is the BEST chili in the entire world--for real. The kids love to cook with me so they are looking forward to it almost as much as I.  Yes I would say all of today's happenings are very much normal which today feels very wonderful and like such a huge blessing.  It is hard to believe that just a few days ago we were stuck in the hospital waiting for AJ to heal. 

We have not been tempted by the evil television today... not yet anyways.  Hopefully this will hold true for the entire day.  Yesterday we had no problem leaving the television off, but the kids did watch a movie with Grandma Neva when she watched them while I worked out yesterday.  But honestly, when I got home the movie was playing and so was everyone else in a different room.  They were not even paying any attention to the show.

I hope to hear from all of my siblings soon just to confirm that they are still with us on our voyage.  Last week when I saw Rebel and Miranda, they were still very much on board (not watching TV), but not so much into the writing part of it.  If they don't write soon, I may be forced to speculate how they are feeling/doing much as I did with Jeff last week.  So consider this your warning guys; if I don't hear from you guys this week I will be inventing a story to share about your NOTV experience.  It might work to your advantage to share your own stuff instead of leaving it to my overactive imagination!

Vern Out