Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sleepover Daniel's Style

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

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

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

Vern and Mird OUT


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

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

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

Vern Out

Monday, October 24, 2011

Library take Two

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Big Ten Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Thursday, October 20, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tiger insanity

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The apple tree

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out