Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've decided

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

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

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

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

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

Happy (almost) New Year, 2012!!

Vern Out

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What's next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas movie marathon

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

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

Vern Out

Monday, December 19, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays,
Vern Out

Friday, December 16, 2011

The crash

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Daniels

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


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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Frosty the Snowman!

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Strippers and lingerie

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

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

Vern Out

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Table dancing

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

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

Vern Out

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Rose Bowl

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

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

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

Vern Out

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The new babysitter

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

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

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

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

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

Vern Out