Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Monday, November 28, 2011

The big TV

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

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

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

Vern Out

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Vacation

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A thankful Thanksgiving

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

What a day!

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shouting Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


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

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

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

Vern Out

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lord help me

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

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

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

Vern Out

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fear factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vern and Mird Out

Thursday, November 10, 2011

News update

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

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breaking news

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

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

Vern Out

Saturday, November 5, 2011


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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The aftermath

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

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

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

Vern Out