Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Monday, January 31, 2011

nice quiet weekend

So we had an entire weekend with no plans, that last one for like 6 weeks.  I was excited to have a quiet weekend home and was not expecting the "b" word to sneak in like it did....we were BORED!!  Vern has warned me of such things, especially with we struggled through our first real boredum day and it wasn't just kenny....mommy was bored too!! After a few hours of going crazy and making dad crazy too I decided I had to find something to do!!!  So, we piled out every lego and block in the house and built entire villages, for the race cars to live in of course, we took a good trip to the greenhouse to play in the water and poke the plants for a while, and then we took the plunge as suggested in the blog and took a family bubble bath (yes myself and two kids) until we all turned into raisins! At that point we were only half way through the day I was once again running out of ideas of things to do that didn't involve going out in the horrible cold.  Luckily grandma and grandpa Daniels showed up to visit and helped a lot with the rest of the day!! Still going strong and looking forward to spring time!!!

A Benevolent Stranger

This one will be brief for a change; at least I think it will be. True acts of generosity were on display this morning at the Aquatic Center in Spring Lake. First the Director, Jason, carried my bags in for me.  I clearly had my hands full with my bags and two kids.  As I struggled to move us toward the coveted front door, all of a sudden out of nowhere, there he was offering to help me to the door. I said “thanks”.  But a thanks doesn’t really do justice to the amount of help he provided me at that particular moment. I often feel I get enough of a work-out just getting me and the kids safely delivered to our work-out that the work-out itself is all bonus calories being burned! Seriously, dragging two kids and all of our stuff to the gym is a work-out all of its own. 

Well, the generosity didn’t stop at the door. Oh no, the best part is yet to come.  I will spare you all the details of the membership sign-up ordeal, but the end result was that I was not going to be able to afford to become a member after all.  I was bummed, really, really bummed.   After delivering the message about my not being able to sign up to the staff and shedding a few tears of frustration and sadness I headed to fetch my kids from the Little Lakers Activity Center. I cried for real. I felt really stupid, but I really wanted to become a member and I guess it just got to me. The staff was AMAZING though at dealing with my emotional outburst.  I really appreciated their compassion.  I was feeling completely defeated and sad as I worked to bundle up the kids once again for our voyage home.  That is when the lady from the front desk came into the room and let me know that an anonymous donor had paid for the rest of my membership, the part I could not afford.  I really need to thank the benevolent stranger who paid for the second half of my Aquatic Center Family Membership this morning.  That was truly incredible of him to do that.  I highly doubt he is following my adventures on NOTV 2011 blog, but on the off shot chance that he is, “Thank you so much!  It actually brought tears back to my eyes that someone who doesn’t even know me would do such a kind thing for me” That is my story for today.  That's it.  That is what I have been doing other than watching TV today.  I have been working out at the Aquatic Center and now thanks to a kind stranger I can continue to do so! Now I can train for my first marathon without having to do it all outside in the bitter cold.  I am so excited!  I am not positive of this fact, but I believe I may be the first (or at least close to it) person with hydrocephalus to complete a marathon so I am totally pumped and honored to be training for it! Lord willing I will make it happen July 30, 2011.
Vern Out

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mrs. Clean

I worked like a wild woman all day to whip our house into shape.  I think it is safe to say that we are officially back on the cleaning frenzy bandwagon.  The house is once again clean and no longer reminiscent of a pig pen.  The only break I took was for a much needed outdoor workout.  I ran four miles with my good friend, Kirby.  We kept a decent pace.  I am really thankful for the run and for the clean house.  Jeff took the two eldest kids ice fishing while I worked my cleaning magic so he did his part too.  Unfortunately our TV is on right now because the Pro Bowl is on tonight and Jeff had that on his exemption list.  But I'm not watching.  I am keeping busy with bathing the kids, reading books, cleaning the house even more and catching up on some M-live writing so look for some more stories on there later this week!
Vern Out

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Last Confession

So we had a night off last night.  That is a night off from the kids since Grandma and Grandpa C. took all THREE kids for a super cool sleepover night!  Hallelujiah!! I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have the best in-laws ever!  What a great gift!  So we went out to dinner, shopping at Sam's Club and we were home in time for Fringe for Jeff. I know we definately got totally WILD and CRAZY with our night off, didnt we?  I wanted to go to the mega 80's night at the Intersection, but I couldnt talk Jeff into it.  MEGA 80's Night,  that would have been WILD and CRAZY. Dinner and shopping was not so much wild and crazy, but it was nice and at least we got out of the house.   Anyhow, You all know I had sworn Fringe off last week, but OOPS I did it again. I ended up watching a fair amount of that damn show.  Darn it.  It was just so hard to not watch it when Jeff was there watching it relaxed in his lazy boy.  At least I didn't sit and veg while I watched, I just caught a few (okay most) of the segments in between my most recent cleaning frenzy.  Oh yeah, I guess there are actually two final confessions, not just the one about FRINGE.  I have kind of fallen off the cleaning frenzy bandwagon and I am trying desperately to get back on before our house returns to its pre NOTV state which was very messy, cluttered and dirty.  It was basically a pig pen, you know, without the actual pigs and poop.  So there you have it all of my darkest secrets unveiled and other than the Fringe situation last night the TV is still black.
V Out

Friday, January 28, 2011

January Overview - Daniels

I suppose its close enough to the end of the month to do an overview.  I like to pretend winter is almost over, so I suppose calling it the end of the month early will help!!  I will start by saying that although we are TV free for the most part we do let kenny watch on occasion, we try to keep it to 30 minutes or less and it is definitely not a daily thing.  I myself have not watched any programs and honestly I don't miss them a whole lot, I often wonder what some of my characters are up to and I have to remind myself that they are not real hehe...I agree with Domin that educational programs are probably good, I just have never really been into those to start with, generally the TV I watch is straight up drama shows with no real value other than the ability to addict you to them! I have become quite attached to my reading though and have been reading educational books along with my for fun books.  I have been reading a lot of nutritional books and diabetes books (I was diagnosed just before Christmas with type 2 diabetes), so I guess I am probably smarter :)  And I read for fun books to fill in the absence from the drama shows I like!
I also don't feel like I have been a whole lot more active in my life but when I step on the scale I am actually 10 pounds lighter than when started this whole thing a month ago, so maybe I am actually more active than I realize! or maybe its because I don't sit in front of the TV snacking at night (its hard to snack in the bath tub), or maybe its because I've tried lots of new healthy recipes from the books I've been reading!! either way its the easiest 10 pounds I have ever lost!!  So if anyone out there is trying to lose weight I would suggest turning off the tube!!
Also some home improvements - I finally finished painting the inside of my house (after only one year) and I think my house has been much cleaner.  I actually had a friend say the other day that my house seemed "pretty clean" when she was over the other day...which is big time for me!! usually its a disaster area and people are just polite enough to not say anything!! I have vacuumed probably 10 times already this month, and yes my house needs it that often, compared to once a week or even every other week in 2010.
So overall I think its a good start to the year and when I run out of bubble bath maybe I'll even get back to my "to do" list!!
peace out - mird

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Confessions From The First TV Free Month

My sheets have been changed more in the past month than they had been in the entire first half of 2010 and no unfortunately I am not kidding.  While I did not actually keep a running tally or have a set schedule for sheet washing last year, I feel confident in the accuracy of this alarming statistic I just shared with you.  I am not proud of this fact. It is actually quite embarrassing, but it’s also quite true.  Ironically, we have also had sex in the morning more times in the past month than we had in the past year too.  It wasn't planned the sheets and sex combination just happended, but it is probably a good thing that they did take place at roughly the same time.  And yes we have had sex in general more often than usual so the clean sheets have been necessary.  Jeff LOVES clean sheets on the bed and he's a guys so I am sure he likes getting some more often.  We have been getting along better than ever lately.  I am counting on these facts to keep Jeff on board for the upcoming second month of the NOTV 2011 challenge.  Without these benefits, I am not certain if Jeff would continue on our NOTV 2011 voyage with us or not.

Another fun secret that goes along with the sex theme, I bought us a sexy game for the year of NOTV.  I thought we deserved a little something special for our efforts to live without TV.  I guess it is probably assumed that when a couple turns off the TV especially in the winter in Michigan, they will end up naked together more often so I thought it would be a fun way to make the nakedness even better.  I won't be sharing too many details on the success or failure of this one. I don't want our blog to become X rated, but we will be participating in it each week so I will likely need to continue with my weekly washing of our sheets. The game is called,"52 Naughty Nights" it was from the sex toy party I dragged my friends to earlier this month for one of my weekly outings.  It is supposed to add surprise and excitement to the bedroom.  I will be honest I am a little skeptical, but I am also willing to try new things so what the heck.  Each week you, or your spouse (you take turns) get a Love Lotto ticket to scratch off and reveal a surprise for use in the bedroom.  Don't worry, it is nothing too kinky.  So far we have done two of them and they have been kind of silly, but it is still fun to get the lotto ticket.  I guess it is the thrill of gambling oh and the sex is kinda fun too!  
My next confession, and it’s a big one, is that I do actually miss TV sometimes. Not often, but every once in awhile I miss it.  On the blog, I am almost always upbeat and positive about NOTV 2011 (unless there is an illness or hormones involved).  And don’t get me wrong, I am still all of those things.  I am completely committed to NOTV 2011 and totally passionate about it almost to a fault; I am somewhat obsessed with this new lifestyle of ours.  I would still totally start the NOTV revolution across America, if I had a little more time, money, energy and one of those cool fancy buses everyone takes on campaign tours.  So I hate to admit that I occasionally miss TV and if anyone tells Jeff, I will deny that I ever said it.  I am really very happy without TV being a part of our life.  Most of the time, I do not miss it at all.  I am too busy playing with the kids or planning fun and crazy stuff for us to do.  But once in awhile, when the stars are properly aligned and the kids are deserving of a grand reward, I will, for just a split second, find myself missing the good old TV watching days. Okay enough about that one and I really will deny all of this, if you tell Jeff!
Another timely declaration, I had no idea what a blog was four months ago.  I had a basic concept from watching Julie and Julia, but I had no idea how to start one and no intention of ever having my own. I had no idea what a blog was really all about before we started this little NOTV2011 gig. If my sister, Miranda, hadn’t started this one for me I would likely still be blogless today.  Is blogless even a word? I doubt it. Anyhow, I was a blog virgin not so long ago. 

I may have inadvertently and unintentionally created three little imagination monsters.  I guess there are worse things I could have accidentally done like driving the van into the garage.  Oh wait, I did do that last week.  My kids' imaginations are running rampant and out of control!  It's like the rabies epidemic of the 20th century only without the rabid dogs and other wild animals.  Since the TV has been shut off, you all know that my imagination has been a little over active. Well apparently imaginations are contagious becuase they have totally caught my imagination bug.  Yesterday, my two eldest talked me into letting them bath in the kitchen sink which is by the way MUCH too small for them.  They had the most incredible time and while in the sink that barely held them they created space ships complete with computers that were able to track daddy's location at work. 
My final confession of the month is related to my addiction.  While I maintain that I am not addicted to sleeping pills, and I have actually not taken any more since my last post regarding them to support my stance on the matter, I may be addicted to this blog.  I find it very hard to live for more than a day or two without checking in on it and most days I even need to write something on it as I am sure all of you have noticed.  I take great joy in watching it grow and mature and I get excited when something totally outrageous or funny happens because I know I will get to write a story about it later to share on the blog.  I may indeed have a serious blogging problem.  Are there help groups for blog addiction?  There are for every other addiction, so I suspect there may be.  Although I doubt they have daycare for my kids.  Anyone who has words of wisdom for me on this one let me know.  Until next time, there are all my deepest, darkest secrets from the first month exposed for all to read!
Vern Out

Muskegon Chronicle

There will be a small article about the blog in the print edition of the Muskegon Chronicle tomorrow so buy a copy and check it out!!!  It will be in the tinted rail along the right side of the FRONT PAGE. You can continue to read additional fun stories about what we are up to without our TV on at the m-live muskegon chronicle website as well!  The edited version of today's lengthy post is already on there so if you dont like the long version on here check that out!
Vern Out

3 weeks down 49 to go!

I have provided some tidbits from the past two weeks on the M-live site. If you have been following us on there, you know that we have been extremely busy.  We’ve gone icicle picking a couple of times, had tub-side royal tea parties, implemented a Wacky Wild Wednesday Work-out regimen for our family, hosted our First Fun Friday Fart Festival and much, much more!  Jeff’s event calendar is quite full thanks to me, his very own little event planner.  More importantly, the televisions are still turned off at all of the Smith sibling homes!  I will say the past two weeks, when compared to the first week, have been more difficult in some ways and then much easier in others. It has been a nice mix of challenging moments and down right fun and hysterical times without the TV.  The fun ones make it easy to continue on our NO TV 2011 mission and without the challenging ones I think it is safe to say the blog would not be nearly as interesting so I am truly grateful for both. 

If you are a virgin to my writings and this is your first time, then you need to read the rest of them because the other stories are pretty entertaining too, but the cliff’s notes version goes something like this.  I had to have emergency brain surgery about four years ago (January 11, 2007) and since have been feeling restless and in desperate need of a face lift on our lifestyle.  I have since quit my job, had two kids and founded the Brainy Day 5K a fundraiser run/walk that supports those with hydrocephalus, the condition from which I suffer. The idea to give up television in our home for the 2011 year was one that I thought up last November during a brainstorming session of mine. My husband calls these “silly day dreams”, but I prefer brainstorming.  Anyhow, we are now living my brainstorm, or dream, depending on which interpretation you buy into and our television has been rendered useless for the year. Oh the last important morsel of information you should have is all of my siblings are along on the adventure as well.  They just couldn’t miss out on the fun so you will hear about their successes and challenges as well!

Weeks two and three were, as I mentioned before, both easy and difficult all at once.  These two weeks were a hybrid adventure of great successes and horrifying failures.    Some days passed by without my even noticing the lack of television while others seemed to drag on forever.  On the long days, the thought of television crossed my mind at least fifty times and there were a few close calls too.  I am proud to say, as I write this, I am still TV free.  I will share with you some of the highlights and the low spots too since we have already established that these oftentimes are more entertaining in nature.  The one constant we have all noticed is that we are reading A LOT more than in the past!

It is fairly intriguing to see the different comments and experiences since our lives are all so unique.  What is difficult for one of us is not for another.  To help illustrate this point consider this example. Rebel is, and always has been, a sports addict. As a child he actually played entire seasons of the NFL (including playoffs and Super Bowl) by himself in the backyard. I know, he is a little strange.  At least he doesn’t eat glue!  Not watching the play-offs right now, or MSU basketball, is probably killing him.  Me, on the other hand, I don’t miss sports.   My biggest challenges were hormonally driven situations and days when my kids were sick.  Miranda’s biggest challenges have come when Wheel or Fortune is on or when her kid has a check-up at the doctor and has a meltdown afterwards begging for Sesame Street.  Dominica is the ghost participant in this whole affair. We rarely hear from her.  I do know that she watches 15 minutes of the news each morning as she prepares for work and she tunes in to The Biggest Loser for inspiration for her personal weight loss goals and other than that she has not tuned in to any TV this year so she is with us, we just don’t hear from her much.

I spent much of the past two weeks planning stuff. I planned entertainment for Jeff, entertainment for the kids and entertainment for myself.  I planned meals, trips to visit family and friends and projects for the kids and me to do at home.  I planned house cleaning lists and “to do” lists for Jeff and me.  In speaking with my siblings, they did much of the same, planned for alternative ways to spend their time. Of course, we are all simultaneously busy with actually carrying out these plans as well.  We are unbelievably busy people now that our televisions are turned off. 

When you eliminate your primary source of entertainment, I guess it is to be expected that you will have to invest some amount of time planning alternative forms of entertainment.  I just didn’t realize how much planning would be necessary.  If I earned a nickel for every time Jeff or the kids said, “I’m bored” these past few weeks, I would be an independently wealthy woman and I am pretty sure I would be vacationing in the Bahamas right now, not writing this blog.  So I guess we can all be thankful that I don’t get a nickel for each time I hear those awful words.  That is where the planning is so critical when others look to you for guidance in their NO TV lives.  I think I have the planning thing down pat for the most part now.  It is definitely getting easier by the day.  I have to take the time early on in the week to plan a few in home activities for everyone.  This is where activities like “Wild, Wacky, Wednesday Workouts” and “Fun Friday Fart (and Burp) Fest” were born.  It gives us something to look forward to after dinner and it makes for great content for the blog.  I find immediately following dinner and quiet time to be the most difficult times to not have television readily available. That is why they say old habits die hard I suppose.  We used to watch movies for quiet time most days and Wheel of Fortune was a staple in our home after dinner as well.  I have a little confession here, the Wheel of Fortune was all me.  No one else really liked it although Kara does love to pretend to be Vanna. I sure did love Wheel and if anything, or anyone (like Kara impersonating Vanna) interfered with it, mommy was not happy.  I was definitely an addict.  I have the Wheel Watcher card to prove it.  I guess technically that means I am in rehab now. 

We oftentimes watched whatever other shows were on in the evenings too just because it was our way of life, not because the quality of shows was anything spectacular or special or because we were learning or benefiting much from the experience.  Having the TV on in the background was just something we did without really thinking about it.  When I really stop to think about it, most nights we watched television shows and we actually sat and complained about them as we watched.  How pathetic is that?  I would say our average television usage was between 4-7 hours daily before this NO TV 2011 dream came to fruition. In my defense, I was often working on laundry or dishes while I watched. I rarely sat there and just watched.  Regardless, I realize that amount of time in front of a television is alarming, ridiculous even. 

Now, we play games or do crafts during quiet time and we have scheduled evening activities to keep us busy and to prevent me from tuning into Wheel. We also freelance in the entertainment department a fair amount.  Being able to successfully do this is important for when plans don’t go well, or kids are sick.  These sessions usually result in a session of tickle monster or an impromptu doctor’s appointment or some other fun form of acceptable torture.  Tickle monster is when Jeff (aka Tickle Monster) pretends to be asleep on the couch and then whoever wakes him up is subjected to whatever torturous tickling he dishes up that night.  It is one of the kid’s favorites because they love to be tickled and my least favorites because I am very ticklish and it really is torture for me. We play doctor and dentist a fair amount now too.  Our bathroom, albeit tiny, doubles as both a doctor’s and a dentist’s office in the evenings.  It also converts to our very own, in-home, water park during the day. It sounds strange to say this, but we spend an inordinate amount of time in our bathroom these days. On the upside, the kids have never been cleaner, my teeth have never been more sparkling white and Jeff’s health has never been more closely monitored.  Miranda says she also spends a lot of time in her tub so maybe eliminating TV is also good for personal hygiene!

I also sprinkle a few out-of-home experiences in to the mix.  These are kind of like out of body ones only G rated. These take place weekdays during the day while daddy is safely at work.  We frequent the library, Grandma’s office, the grocery store and the bank.  It helps to break up the long winter days.

While all the aforementioned activities are important, the most critical thing I plan each week is an event for me.  It has to be something fun or interesting to me that requires I leave the home and interact with other adults.  I know I set my standards really high, didn’t I? This outing works to preserve what shred of my sanity may still be in tact (although there is an ongoing dispute as to weather I have already lost my mind so this may be a mute point).  Regardless of the ongoing nature of this debate, I like to pretend I am still sane so I continue with my weekly outings. A heart felt thanks goes out to my friends and family who still come along to screenings for documentaries, sex toy parties, mega 80s nights and the other wild activities I have planned.  I am sure you had no idea just how close to the edge I was or you would have politely declined my invitations. Okay, enough about my sanity already on to other updates.

 Since turning the television off just a little over three weeks ago, I have already partially met all of my goals that I had coming into the challenge.  Jeff and I are getting along great and I feel the family is much closer now too.  We have also spent more time with friends and family so we are being more social.  We are definitely a stronger, better family without our TV.  Our house looks like a new house. It is seriously incredible how much cleaner and more organized it is in just a few weeks.  I am still running a lot and Jeff has been ice fishing and skiing more too so I think we are making some progress in the healthier lifestyle arena as well.  And to think all of these changes came to be simply by turning our TV “off” and our imaginations “on”. 

My siblings are still with us on this NO TV 2011 challenge although if you visit us regularly, you realize I have completely monopolized the blog with my commentary and animated stories.  I just hope my siblings forgive me for this!

 I will leave you with this final thought.  We are at 3 weeks down and 49 to go and my house has never been cleaner (even before kids), my kids have never been happier (even with TV) and Jeff and I are getting along better than ever.   And to think none of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken a stand and insisted we turn our TV off.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the daniels

yes we are still here!  we have been having minor internet connection complications which keep me from getting on here very often!  we have also been working very hard to become more efficient at work as we are trying to cut 10% of our labor costs for the 2011 greenhouse getting on the blog at work has been off limits for the most part!! No TV has been going good for us, with the greenhouse season right around the corner I think it will become even easier.  I have become slightly addicted to my bathtub though.  I can spend an hour or two in the tub pretty easy and not even notice!  I am not sure that was the intent of the experiment as I am not being any more productive or active, I have lost motivation for most of my projects currently, but hey at least my TV is not on!! 

As far as the kids go, I did ask their daycare lady how much TV she allows at daycare.  She informed me  no TV if there is more than one kid there, (we send our kids to a very small daycare where on occaision they are the only kids) so occaisionally they get TV, (less than once a month) but for the most part no TV at daycare.  She said when there is only one kid they tend to get bored and she'll allow one or two shows, but I suppose with a big group of kids there is no need for TV to entertain.  I was glad to hear this!

Glad to hear from the whole group!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


People have been asking how our date night with Fringe went so I wanted to report that it was nothing special even though I made every attempt to make it so.  I tried to use my imagination to make it special, but I was unsuccessful.  I made movie tickets and had popcorn and everything.  But all that effort was futile.  I couldn't shake the guilt of having our TV on so  I will not be tuning into any more episodes this year. Instead I am going to just keep it real and leave our TV in the "off" position for good until 2012.
v out

An outing to the Children's Museum

The TV is still off at our house and at the Daniels'.  Miranda, Mark and their kids met me and my kids at the Grand Rapids Children's Museum today.  It was  a grand adventure; a truly splendid outing.  To say the kids LOVED it would be the understatement of the century.  AJ said his favorite part was the bubbles, driving the car and seeing his cousin, Kenny.  Kara loved the restaurant the best because she got to be in charge of making all the food and delivering it to her customers.  She also liked the treehouse and the drive through bank.  Kenny loved the ball bins and the pretend bank.  Hazel and Cody just loved seeing all the new stuff.  It really is a great place to take kids they have taken the "kid proofing" out of the equation for the parents so you can really just hang out and watch them enjoy their time there exploring and learning.  NO TV was a piece of cake today and Kara served it up at the restaurant.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Everything in moderation

I have been practicing making bread from fresh milled wheat, canning venison and hauling wood.  Might sound kind of weird but its my thing right now.  We have made some really good bread and knowing how good it is for you when you have the entire wheat berry ground makes it healthy.  I have been to boot camp two times a week for 3 weeks in a row plus my weekly session with my trainer.  I'm feeling real good, however I did have a 3 week battle with poison ivy which I still haven't really figured out where it came from in Jan.  All in all 2011 is off to a productive start. 

Unlike the rest of the group, I have been watching some TV. Its pretty much impossible to avoid when you are living with someone who is not in on the program.  I'm finding that I'm more choosy now after being aware for a while and I don't watch as much.  I have started asking myself why am I watching this and what am I getting out of it.  If the answer is nothing I do something else. 

In this process I'm also realizing that I really like watching some TV.  Too much of anything is not good and a little bit of everything in moderation can be healthy.  There are sometimes when its good to sit down and take your mind off your real situation and TV can do that for you.  If your choosy you can even realize some benefits from it.  For example like antiques roadshow.  Ifs fairly entertaining and you can learn about history of all sorts of things. 


Gone Campin'

Aven and I decided to have a bonfire and roast marshmallows in the living room instead of heading out on the town and I am so glad we did. He has such a vivid imagination.  We set up a campsite complete with a fire pit, tent and lake. AJ gathered firewood (books) to build a great, big, bright fire.  It was spectacular!  I am so thankful for his imagination even though sometimes that means that he paints with his magic markers on the couch or practices making mac n cheese on the kitchen floor.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit that those are true stories and I was actually the adult in charge of him at those particular times.  I remember not being so amused by his imagination at the time.  However, I am still thankful that he is a healthy, imaginative smart little guy.  His creativity is still welcomed even if it means more messes that must be cleaned up later.  I have to get back to the campsite, Aven is about to start another fire.  We are roasting hotdogs this time.  . 

Manic Monday

Okay maybe I am bipolar.  Just kidding, but I woke up feeling SO MUCH better than the past few days that it feels like I could be.  I guess I shouldn't joke about such a serious topic.  I mean no disrespect.  I just have never gone from feeling so lousy to feeling so good in such a short amount of time!  Hormone wise and everything, I am just feeling AWESOME today.  I probably have to give at least partial credit to the Tylenol PM, but I think the denial stuff may have helped out too.  I mean you have to fake it til you make it, right!?  I woke up feeling really good today!  I still feel a little under the weather, but compared to last night I feel GREAT!  We are going to head out on the town and then take a long, hot bath this afternoon.  NO TV is good today!
V Out

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jeff's Addiction Theory

Jeff thinks I may be addicted to sleeping pills-tylenol PM to be more specific.  I think I may be sick and they just help me sleep better this week.  I am stubborn though so I am still in the denial phase.  Yes it is day 6 of the blessed denial phase with maybe a titch of the "hoping for another outcome" phase.  I suppose they are probably one in the same.  I just feel really worn out for the third day in a row and I am stuffy nosed and I may be coughing a little bit too especially when I lay down and try to sleep, and I have a little headache too, but I am sure it is nothing too serious.  I am a stay-at-home mom with three kids under the age of five, I can't be sick.  Maybe that was partly what was wrong with me yesterday, this cold was trying to take a stronger hold on me.  I might not be a hormonal wreck afterall?!  Wow, that is such a happy and reassuring thought!  The kids had a nasty cold this week that you heard about back when I stated that I was getting a taste of hell.  Now I am reconsidering my thougthts from that day.  Maybe being sick myself is worse and I am now "on the threshold of hell" credit due to Clark W. Griswold in one of my favorite movies of all time, Christmas Vacation.  I am feeling like tomorrow could be a really long day, if I don't feel better.  Screw Jeff's addiction theory, I am going to take a couple Tylenol PM pills and head to bed. With any luck I will wake up feeling totally healthy and ready to take on another Monday with all cylinders.  Vern Out

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I took my own advice and hopped in the tub with my kids shortly after my last post.  I must say I am a really smart woman giving out advice like that.  You know, advice that really works.  It totally changed the course of our evening and I am pretty sure a few hours ago, we were headed straight for Disasterville, Doom City or somewhere even worse.  I wouldn't recommend it if your tub is as small as ours, but we survived and came out of it a lot cleaner and with shiny new attitudes as well.  It was a beautiful thing.  I apologized to the kids for my lousy attitude and lack of energy today and they actually seemed to understand at least as much as a kids can understand grown-up stuff like hormones. While in the tub my imagination came back to life and we had appointments at the Sassy Swimming Salon.  Of course, Kara was the salon owner, in charge of everything.  She was fab U lous too.  AJ, Hazel and I were her customers.  It was a lot of fun and the rest of the evening has been very enjoyable without our TV and I even avoided eating icecream and needing tissues so I am doing much better!
Vern Out

NOTV 2011 Bandwagon is Still Truckin'

We're still trucking here, slowly but surely.  At least slow and steady wins the race, right?   Today I am counting on that old saying to hold true.  Don't worry the TV is not on, but I am experiencing what can only be described as severe PMS, or hormonal imbalance.  Not sure which one, but they are equally awful when you are feeling the way I do and you can not just park your butt on a couch, watch chick flicks and eat icecream with a box of tissues.  I am sure it is somehow related to my hormones going back to "normal" after stopping breastfeeding recently, but it doesn't make it any easier.  And I don't feel normal.  Poor Jeff, he is stuck with my moody, hormonal, butt today. Oh well, I guess that is why us women want to get married so badly to make sure our men don't take off when we get this way.  Anyhow, I tried out snowshoeing earlier today for the first time and that was a much needed break from being stuck inside in my current state of mind.  Snowshoeing is best described as running in my snowsuit on a sandy beach with weights strapped to my legs and snow and wind blowing on my face.  It was a blast.  I will have to go again when I feel more upbeat and motivated. We enjoyed our hot date night last night and plan to play scrabble later on.  We have to play a rubber match it is all tied up 1-1 right now!  V out

Friday, January 21, 2011


Thank goodness we survived this week and without turning on our television too!  Just writing the mystical "TGIF" letters sends me back to the good old days when Friday night meant our cousin, Loretta, and the neighbor kid, Abram, were coming to sleepover at our house. We got pizza for dinner and I made no bake cookies for dessert. And yes we tuned in to ABC's TGIF on the television for the entire evening. It was a lot of fun and a die hard tradition at the Smith house.  We rarely missed a Friday. If we did it was usually only because one of us was sick enough for our mom to call it off.  I am sure my siblings have tears in their eyes just reading this one and remembering Fridays at the Smiths. Maybe I will have to bake up some no bake cookies tonight for our date night. Later tonight, Jeff and I will be tuning into Fringe. in lieu of a rented movie this month, we will be watching Fringe each Friday.  It seemed like a good compromise to keep the hubby happy!  If only we could skip the commercials, but we have no DVR so we will have to suffer through them, or better yet eat some cookies to pass the commercial time.  I like that idea better!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Still Alive

Its been well over a week since I was here last, so I wanted to put everyone at ease and announce I am still alive, and TV almost sounds like a disease.  The biggest scare for me came on Tuesday; the day began with the greatest phone call in the world "No School Today."  After sleeping in a bit, and then having breakfast at home with some of our other teacher friends, Leslie and I found ourselves with much of the day ahead of us and....well no school to keep us busy.  I wanted to break the cardinal rule of a teacher and head to school to get some extra work done...Leslie was convinced this was the worst idea ever.  After some negotiation we settled on me getting 2 hours at school and then us renting a movie. 

I really need to start reading the instructions more.  For example, I didnt realize we got one free movie night per month.  This eased my guilt as Leslie and I sat down to watch "Dinner for Schmucks."  The movie was alright, good for a laugh, but definitely not a life changing event. 

Leslie is not fully committed to the No TV rule, but has been watching much less.  She also has been supportive in the fact that she tries not to watch TV when I am home.  I am finding that I crave TV much less.  I heard through the grapevine that MSU lost to the ILLINI the other night....glad I didnt have to witness that :-)  This weekend I start my next Masters class, so Im sure that will add more to my busy schedule and help to keep my mind off of those witty commentators on ESPN!


thanks for dinner

Still no tv at the Daniels house!  I have been brainstorming ways to save money, so I would like to thank all of you for taking me out to dinner last night :) We had baked chicken (from Rebel) with green beans (from the folks) squash and applesauce (from the canning fiasco) and for desert fresh papaya (from domin)!  It was such a great healthy free meal and even Kenny and Cody got full from it :) so I managed to spend zero dollars for one day!  Thanks! by the way I never knew I like papaya! but its pretty much awesome...for those of you who got it in the mail last week you should give it a try :)

On the Road

We took our happy, no TV watching, butts on the road today and visited some of our best friends, the VanHoutens.  Well, technically Hazel and I did this.  Kara and AJ spent the day with Grandma and Grandpa.  It was a much needed break from our house since we had not so much as left the house since Monday (unless you count the time playing outside with Kim Tuesday for the kids and the short run on the same day for me). Either way, we needed to get out!  We watched about five minutes of Dora at their place before I talked their 2 year old into playing with me for the rest of the visit.  While part of the NOTV 2011 deal is that we can watch television when visiting others, so I could have desperately searched the schedule for Wheel of Fortune or Ellen reruns. It just didn't feel right to me. Plus I am not very good at manuevering through TV guides since we don't have cable or dish, so I likely would not have had the know with all to get one of my favorites up and running anyways. So we played games, read books and played dress-up the rest of the afternoon until nap time.  Then we headed back to our TV free home feeling refreshed and ready to stay TV free for another day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It's 4:40 and we’re still on the bandwagon!  Our television is still turned off!  This is nothing short of a miracle after the trials and tribulations of the past two days. What does it really mean to be “on the bandwagon” and “where did that saying come from anyways?”  I asked my husband these very questions last night as we lay in bed. I was already busy thinking about my next story for the blog.  Well he didn’t know the answers either so I did a little research this morning. The research was  nothing fancy, I just googled it, but I found a common acceptable definition to be, “When someone adopts a popular point of view for the primary purpose of recognition and/or acceptance by others”.  The use of this term originated back when political parties travel on wagons and in order to show support for your candidate you would literally get on his wagon.  This discovery, of course, forced me to reexamine my initial statement of the day. 

Maybe, we aren’t really still on the band wagon.  Maybe we were never even on it at all. Deciding to turn our television off for the year is definitely not a popular point of view and we certainly are not doing it for recognition or acceptance by others.  Mostly we are doing it as I mentioned in my initial story to focus on three main goals:  To get our house cleaner and more organized, to focus on developing better social relations (both within our immediate family and with outside friends and family) and to help us form healthier lifestyle habits as a family. So maybe we are trying to start a NO TV 2011 bandwagon and so far my siblings and I are the only ones on it.  That may be the simplest way to analyze this situation.  But I think it is safe to say regardless of how you evaluate this stuff we are still on the bandwagon because our TV is still turned off!   
vern out!   


I Was Wrong

Yesterday my day ended up just fine.  It was just another close call.  A really close one at that, but I never did turn on my TV.  And that’s the important thing, that I never actually turned it on.  That is what really counts. Thank goodness for good friends and that there are no style points to this NO TV deal.  I would have scored really low on style points yesterday, and I suspect the same will be true today (assuming I make it through the rest of today without our TV which that this point in times seems pretty unlikely). 
Yesterday, Kim and her kids entertained my kids all morning and for much of the afternoon.  They built a snow fort and went sledding while I snuggled inside writing my blog and watching Hazel.  Once my kids had burned off all their pent up energy outside, Kim watched my kids so I could take a quick much needed run with my friend, Kirby.  He is a school teacher and at his school it was a snow day so he called to see if I could run at about and we were on the trail at a little after one.  It was a total spur of the moment run.  These are the best kind in my opinion especially on days when you are feeling drained and burned out as I certainly was yesterday.  The run was the best part of the day, by far, and it worked to restore a bit of sanity to me at a critical time during the day.  Ultimately, the run gave me the strength and stamina to make it through the rest of the day without turning to the TV for entertainment.  Yes, it was that important! I owe a big thanks to Kirby for the invite and to Kim and her kids for watching my kids and driving me to my run since my van would not have made it out of the driveway.
It turns out, yesterday wasn’t really my test at all.  I was wrong about that.  No, yesterday was just a pop quiz, or perhaps it was mere training, but it definitely wasn’t my test.  Today is my real test it seems and so far I have hung on, barely, but I have not hit the power button, yet.  Today I have two sick kids and the third is still teething.  It is pretty much hell, you know, without the fire and brimstone, but still it is pretty awful.  To make matters worse, the illness crept up on us while we slept, or more accurately, while we should have been sleeping.  So once again I find myself operating on less sleep than I got back in the newborn days and so completely exhausted that I can barely move my sore body from a resting state.  I just pray that the soreness is a result of overexerting myself during the run and not a symptom of some sinister cold that will render my body even more useless tomorrow.  For split second, I actually found myself yearning for the days when I worked and I could just hide away in my office drinking coffee until my exhaustion subsided or the day ended, whichever came first.
Entertainment, so far today, has been, at best, average.  I am pretty sure my kids are not impressed, in fact, quite the opposite they are disappointed in me.  For being sick, Kara and AJ sure do expect a lot of entertainment and they have a lot of energy too.  Honestly, they really don't really seem very sick anymore.  The lack of success in today's entertainment can only be blamed on myself.  I'm not trying to brag, but my recent entertainment track record has been quite impressive which makes today seem all the more dismal so I totally get why my kids are bored.  They have come to expect exciting adventures with lots of energy and creative improvisations from me and today I have none of that to offer.  I just can’t muster up the energy needed for my normal entertainment line up. A heartfelt “sorry” is offered up from me instead whenever they ask about our next adventure. So far we have passed time by eating breakfast (which today counts as entertainment in my book), coloring pictures with the intent of sending them to family members in the mail although honestly that seems a bit ambitious for our current state of affairs and we just got play dough out and are busy making cookies. Oh No, our day is only half over.  YIKES.  I just ask the good lord for the strength to get through this day at all and if the TV has to be utilized for cheap entertainment then so be it.
Vern Out

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Testing Our Commitment

Yesterday was Jeff’s first big test.  It was Monday, Martin Luther King Day, so he had a paid day off thanks to the county’s generous holiday line up.  It was his first full day at home without a sporting event on television, or an ice fishing outing to bail him out.  The unbelievable reality that there is a whole lot of time in a day and that there really is no television allowed in our home was sinking in.  He first noticed this anomaly Sunday night around bed time and I think he was in shock at first. He just sat in his chair dumbfounded.  He may have even cursed the holiday in his mind simply because it forced him to face this overwhelming reality. But the following morning after he had a night to sleep on it,  he decided to embrace the idea. Eventually he did what any decent, self respecting, man would do and he got busy. Really, really busy.  He was so busy I barely saw him for his entire day off.  He cleaned like I have never seen the man clean before and he organized like I have never seen him organize before and he kept himself busy. 
First, he took on the project of moving AJ into his new, big-boy, bed.  This sounds like a quick and easy task.  In actuality, it was very involved and required a lot of work.  Before the bed was actually properly stowed in the kid’s room several tasks had to be completed.  A trip to pick the bed up from his grandma’s house was necessary.  A dismantling of the old bed had to be completed. A thorough cleaning of the area which happened to be the one time I saw Jeff because he recruited me for the task was also necessary and an assembling of the new bed had to be completed.  He worked on this job with a new sense of urgency that I pretty sure was a result of his realization that there truly would be no TV allowed.  I have only rarely seen that type of urgency in Jeff and it is usually only associated with him trying to get me naked when I am not in the mood! Well, he had that entire, complex, involved, big-boy bed, project completed within a couple of hours. 
He then moved to the basement.  He intended to clean the dryer vents.  He informed me that particular undesirable task had been on his “to do” list for some time now.  Well the dryer vent project went so well that it snowballed, out of control I might add, and he eventually cleaned the entire basement. He had brooms, dustpans, boxes and garbage bags everywhere. Amazingly, there seemed to be a system to his madness.  Yes the whole darn basement was cleaned, swept and vacuumed before dinner last night. I kid you not.  I would not joke about such a serious matter.
I discovered another wonderful thing about the library; they have a bin of free magazines.  People can take what they like and leave what they have already read for others to enjoy.  And it is all completely free and as far as I can tell they are not even tracked (I hope not because I probably took more than my fair share, but in my defense they will be returned once we read them).  I stocked Jeff up with a few manly magazines and brought a few feminine ones home for me.  He spent the rest of the night looking through the magazines.  He actually read some of the articles and Jeff doesn’t read so it says a lot about the quality of magazines you can get from the free bin at the library.  As an added bonus, I really believe yesterday gave Jeff a new appreciation for his job.  I think he is truly thankful that he is at work today.
While yesterday was Jeff’s big test with the NOTV deal, today is mine.  Yesterday with the bra mishap was bad, but today proved even worse.  It was and I was giving serious consideration to turning the TV on and spending, not just a few moments, but the entire day with the kids in our pajamas in front of it.  I wanted to just relax and possibly not even move, at all today (other than to change diapers and fetch new snacks).  We could just snack and watch TV all day.  It sounded wonderful, glorious even.  
I should just do it.  If you hadn’t already guessed it, I have some serious PMS stuff going on. To further exacerbate the situation, I am still overly tired from the lack of sleep I have been getting lately and the more I thought about it the more appealing TV kept getting.   As I contemplated the prospect of watching TV, I weighed the pros and cons.  I had to consider my options carefully.  Kara would’ve loved it.  She has asked for movies a couple of times in the past week.  AJ would’ve been disappointed because if I was vegged out in front of the TV, I would not be playing with him or reading books to him.  And Hazel, well Hazel she is still getting her one year molars so I am pretty sure she was going to be cranky without regard to the status of the TV. 
Then I thought, I could call on reinforcements, a friend.  Maybe a friend can save me from myself!  It is really snowy out though no one wants to drive in this mess. I am just going to do it.  At the precise moment when I had decided to pick up the remote and hit the power button, I was saved!  There really is a God and he was watching out for me this morning that much I know.  My friend Kim Vandenbosch called to see if her and her kids could come over to play in the snow with us!  The invitation was one of perfection.  It would solve my TV conundrum and as an added bonus I would get some much needed social interactions with another woman.  The best part, she was going to fetch me some more feminine hygiene items because I had noticed I was about to run out!  Tune in tomorrow to hear how the rest of the day went.

Monday, January 17, 2011

book books books

I do have to agree with vern that if you thought you read a lot before it really seems like we read constantly now!! I dont have a lot to report on other than it seems that we read a ton!!  We have been quite busy as a farmily, Kenny went to the circus on Saturday with dad, so i was home alone with the baby and our internet is out at home so I was I admit a bit bored.  I found that I have also replaced TV with reading.  Oringinally I got the book "the bleachers" by John Grisham for 99c at good I think John Grisham 99c cant go wrong right???  so someone should have mentioned the whole book is about football...i will have to send it to rebel next time i am in fremont, although i finished reading it I dont think I quite appreciated the entire thing...anyway I am now onto "Eat Pray Love" which has been enjoyable so far, she is in Italy and eating all sorts of good stuff...I will pass it on if anyone wants it when I'm done! ok peace out mird

Cardinal Rule and a Close Call

It’s only Monday morning and I already broke one of my own cardinal rules.  I went into public without a bra on.  I know, totally disgusting.  I used to make fun of women who did this at the animal shelter when I worked there.  Normally I would not even consider such an atrocity, but it was somewhat of an emergency situation.  It’s the closest I have come to turning our TV on.  It was that bad. 
It all started with another lousy night’s sleep, compliments of Miss Hazel.  Then Kara woke up at the ungodly time of from a bad dream and would not go back to sleep.  Sleep deprivation really will cause you to do some crazy outrageous things, things you would normally not even consider doing.  Anyhow, I had to have a fasting blood draw completed this morning so when it became apparent at about 6 that Kara was not going to return to a sleeping state, I decided to take advantage of the early awakening by getting the lab visit completed bright and early.  Kara agreed to come along as long as I promised not to cry.  A pinky promise ritual was performed and we started getting ready for our adventure. 
Now is when the emergency situation kicked in.  We had no clothes at our disposal to wear on our outing.  Normally, before I gave up TV, there would be piles of clothes dispersed throughout our house.  It was just my way of life to have stacks of clean laundry piled everywhere.  Clothing rarely made it to its appropriate drawer.   Now, however, with the elimination of TV, I have kicked the despicable habit thus leaving us with an unpleasant choice to be made.  Either risking waking someone up to get clothes out of our respective rooms, or completing our mission in what we were currently wearing.  I opted for the latter.   Anyone else awake in the house, just seemed like a very bad choice. We were going to go as is.  This meant that I was going in workout pants and a tank top (luckily I found a little sweatshirt in the van to further hide my unsecured breasts), no socks and my running shoes to complete the ensemble.  Kara was in very stylish purple flannel pajamas so she was in better shape than I.  She was also sockless. Socks were just a luxury we could not afford, if we were to successfully escape without waking others. Her winter boots and coat were in the entry way so fortunately she was still cozy.
The trip itself was fairly uneventful. I did keep my promise not to cry.  Although, I nearly wept when I had to remove my big winter coat that was providing a sense of security to me to have my blood drawn and then again when I returned home to find my frilly red bra sitting on the couch underneath Jeff’s coat (not sure how it got there, but I was pretty upset that I broke my rule unnecessarily).  That was the moment that pushed me over the edge.  Had Wheel of Fortune or Ellen been airing on any of the regular network TV channels at the time, I would have tuned in and watched every last minute.  It was the poor options available in early morning television that kept me from watching this morning, not my self respect or discipline.  It really was pretty pathetic, but I survived and without TV again.  It was a close call though, a really close call.

Vern Out

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Random Acts of Creativity

The past forty eight hours have been pretty random, fun, but also random. Today’s post will follow suit.  It will jump around taking you to all our happenings this weekend. So buckle up and hold on, it is sure to be a bumpy ride!   First of all, the inaugural Fun Friday Fart Fest was as you can imagine a bit stinky.  While not quite as successful as the Wild Wacky Wednesday Workout, it was still a big hit.  The kids found it hysterical that they didn’t have to use their manners at the table for a night and that they were in fact being encouraged to fart and burp.  At first, they were confused and a bit timid. We have been trying to fine tune our manners lately so the event went against all of the rules, we have been instilling in them at recent meals. I think they were scared that we were somehow trying to trap them or teach them a lesson.  But once they caught on, they were ripping them and belching them with the best of us.  The team of Kara and Jeff were officially crowned as the champions.  However, with this contest everyone truly was a winner. Kim Lowe you should’ve stopped by, it would have made you smile!
I have the best in-laws in the world.  I am certain of it.  They are wonderful with our kids, so fun to be with and they are so thoughtful and helpful to me.  Without them I would probably be locked up in the nuthouse--for real. I mean we have already established I am crazy so I am just a short step away from the crazy house. The reason I mention the in-laws is because without them much of this weekend would have been impossible.  Without them much of this post would look differently.  
Saturday morning was the monthly Crockery Township Pancake Breakfast and I wanted to run there to earn my breakfast. My goal was simple. I wanted to start a tradition because I ran there last month.  How many times do you actually have to do something to start a tradition, anyways?  Is two enough? Or do I have to get a third in before I can declare it a tradition?  I don’t know the technical answer to that, but in my book, I now have a tradition that requires me to risk life and limb running down M-104 to eat pancakes that are probably made from nothing more than a cheap mix. This tradition is probably not very logical, but it was important to me for some unknown reason.  Anyways to continue with the story, Jeff had plans to go ice fishing (since he can’t watch TV this hobby seems to be filling the void that was left when the TV went black) so that is where Grandma and Grandpa came in. They took all three kids to the breakfast so that I could run there, eat with them and then hitch a ride back home with them.  Oh and when I finally arrived at the breakfast, about ten minutes slower than I thought I would be, I discovered they had also paid for my breakfast!  See what I mean. They really are the best in-laws ever! It just came to me.  I figured it out!  The reason the tradition is so important to me is because running there makes the pancakes somehow taste so AMAZING.  In my head, I know they are at best just average, everyday, cheap pancakes made from a box. I mean, it is a fundraiser for the township after all so they have not splurged on anything really special or expensive.  But in my mouth after having run 3.5 miles in the snow and cold, WOW, they tasted like the most exquisite, incredible pancakes ever and the coffee was SO GOOD too.  They were truly incredible so kudos to the chefs at the Crockery Township Pancake Breakfast—your hot cakes ROCKED! 
At Mird’s suggestion, we built a farm and garage fortress of sorts out of some old boxes I found in the basement.  It all went down Sunday after breakfast.  Our masterpiece consists of a diaper box barn, a leftover shoe box that has, at AJ’s suggestion, been converted into a garage/barn duplex (which I am pretty sure is going to become a new trend in modern farming) and an old helmet box that has been retrofitted into a parking garage for AJ’s numerous cars, tractors and his most-prized cement mixer truck (it is his favorite because Uncle Ivar drives one!).  The transformation really was pretty impressive.  With just a few average, boring old boxes, we built an impressive little empire.  The coolest part (no pun intended) is the icicle garden that was added as a finishing touch to the outside of Aven’s barn/garage creation.  The icicle garden was his own idea too which made it all the cooler!  He is so creative and imaginative. And he is like an elephant, he never forgets anything.  AJ had not seen, nor heard, of an icicle garden other than on our inaugural voyage to our famous icicle garden on the backside of our poorly insulated home.  That was well over a week ago now, but yet, somehow, he knew that his garage/barn would not be complete without an icicle garden of its own.  That really is pretty amazing stuff. Well, My son and I worked together in perfect unison to complete the shoe box conversion before my 4-year decided to join us for the fun.
Well, we hit a little bump, okay it was probably more like a big ass pothole, in the otherwise smooth road of our construction project.  Kara was not happy with the box that was left for her to use. My attempts to help her work with the box to solve its many imperfections, or to search for a different box that would be more suitable for the project, failed miserably.  I sensed that we were heading toward a terrible tantrum.  The onset of a meltdown seemed inevitable and while I saw it coming, at least a mile away, I was paralyzed to change anything to stop its development.  It was frustrating to say the least.  And sure enough my four year old threw a nasty one.  Why is it that meltdowns by four year olds are so much more pathetic than those from 2 year olds?  I think we just expect more from our 4 year olds so when they suddenly morph into a crazy fit throwing blob of a child, we are more embarrassed for them and more disappointed in them than with a 2 year old when tantrums are part of everyday life.  It sucked. 
I was finally able to calm her by leaving her alone in her room to adjust her attitude in the form of a much needed time out.  She finally did come around and then we returned to our construction frenzy.  The fortress ended up pretty awesome.  I have pictures, but I still need to figure out how to put them on the blog...
After that we took a trip.  Well at least Kara, AJ and I took a trip. Hazel and daddy snuggled inside our cozy house under warm blankets. It was a glorious, tantalizing, global trip in our very own backyard.  It was so amusing.  I persuaded the kids to go with me to complete our chores.  Once we were outside, I announced that we were heading out on a train ride adventure.  I don’t know where that crazy idea came from.  It was like my mouth was talking without consulting my brain.  It was a totally spur of the moment, not well thought out, announcement. While they had no idea what I was talking about, and at the time neither did I, with a quick slightly panic laden brainstorm session, I was able to provide a quick explanation of my intended adventure.  The kids caught on quickly. We were going on a train trip of sorts. Soon, Kara was assigned the role of Conductor, AJ was the passenger, and I, the Caboose.  I had explained that all the tracks left from the snow plow were the train tracks so the only rule was we had to stick to the tracks so our precious feet wouldn’t get wet and cold.  We sang “Little Red Caboose” and made train noises as we moved.  I announced that the first stop was Chicken Coop De Ville.  Clever I know.  We stopped at the first stop and fed and watered our small flock of misfit chickens—they are the leftovers from the shelter I used to manage.  Then Kara led us to the shed that is home to our outdoor kitty (yes she is spayed and up-to-date on her shots). She is just a free spirit and prefers to live outside. This stop was quickly named, “Cat”mandu!  Kitty was fed and petted and then we were off like a shot to Mount McKinley, a large mound of snow that had been piled up by the snow plow.  We reached the summit in record time.  The view was breathtaking.  we could see all of the neighborhood from atop Mt. Mckinley and it was so very pretty.  The next part was the most amazing part of the trip. Up until now, I had been making up all the stuff and leading the way.  I was in charge, but Kara stepped up and said no we aren’t ready for icicle picking yet we have to go to “Car”amazoo (she made it up herself)!  She led the train as far as I would let her go toward the road and we stood there and watched the car parade, the traffic on our road. We waved at everyone as if it really were a genuine, bonafide, big city, street parade.  We watched for a few moments completely mesmerized by the incredible parade.  Then we made a goal to get three people to wave back at us and then we would head to our final destination, The Icicle Gardens.  It didn’t take long as people driving by quickly noticed the three of us jumping and waving in total excitement.  They probably thought we were crazy too. Kara loved the waving the most and AJ loved watching the car parade.  It was quite incredible to let them lead the way for a change.  We made what is becoming a daily stop at the icicle garden and for a change today everyone made quick choices since they had freezing cold feet. We headed inside to drink our cocoa, enjoy our icicles and play with our newly created fortress.  We will definitely be taking some more train trips in the near future and now I know the kids can handle being the ones in charge of creating the adventure, I can let my overactive imagination take a little much needed rest from time to time!
Well now I suppose I should relate this all back to the NO TV 2011 theme somehow.  That really is the point of this whole blog.  Basically, this weekend I was not even tempted to turn the tube on.  It is getting easier for me each day.  This experience is allowing me to tap into my creative side that has sat dormant for many years now so it is a welcomed change to an otherwise uncreative life that I have led.  I have not heard from any of my siblings this weekend so I hope that they are still participating.  I feel like I have monopolized the blog lately so I hope to hear from them soon and hope that they are still enjoying their TV free lives.
V~ Out    
Let me start acknowledging Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow is the day the United States of America recognizes him for the contributions he made towards equal rights for all.  I will celebrate with a toast, famous of my late great-grandfather Bossi, "Love One Another".  It was a saying he said often and I try to embrace it every day.  No matter what differences we may have, I have found I can learn something from everyone I meet everyday. 

On the TV front, I have been watching very little.  My husband doesn't believe it.  When asked, he doesn't seem to remember that we haven't been watching.  Sure he still turns on the morning weather and news and watches high stakes poker once in awhile, but he has not been watching as much because eventually he realizes I am not there and comes looking for me.  Don't get me wrong, I do still watch some TV, but on weekdays only 1/2 hour of news and the biggest loser on DVR (no commercials).   Definitely a lot less than normal.  I really don't miss it at all. I'm trying to remember how I had time to watch it.  There are so many things I want to do.  Currently I'm trying to perfect fresh ground whole wheat flour bread and fresh made pasta.  I'm also starting to plan my 2011 garden!  I'm finding now that if there's nothing I want to watch I don't watch. 

I will however be starting to record the new episodes of antiques roadshow.  This past year we were picked for tickets to the DC event.  We made it to the green room and I'm expecting to see my mother -in -law with her famous chairs on the show one of these Monday nights. 


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smith Family TV

I have been working on this one for awhile now.  It provides everyone with a little more background information about our upbringing, how TV was involved in it and how that impacts the NO TV 2011 experience. 
The Smith family was, actually it still is, quite unique especially when it came or comes to TV.  First of all, unlike most Americans, we did not even own a television until well into the eighties when my paternal grandparents gave us a small hand-me-down TV after they upgraded to a larger set.  It was probably 10 or 12 inches and was black and white.  Nothing fancy. At that time, I was in my early teens. This second hand splendor of a TV did not consume our entire living room nor did it steal away those who visited our home with distraction.  Rather it was a tiny box that sat on a rickety old stand in my parent’s bedroom. 

My first memories of actually watching television involve the entire family (Yes all six of us) snuggling on my parent’s bed to watch a show after chores. It was a challenge just to keep us all balanced properly so we wouldn't fall of the bed.  We owned and operated a family dairy farm at the time.  Once chores were completed on cold winter nights, we would all snuggle under a hand-made quilt that had been a gift from my great-grandmother and we watched a show.  If we got really lucky we would successfully talk dad into a second one.  Then it was off to bed.  There was no watching TV for the entire evening at our house.  The TV did not monopolize our time. To us TV was a treat, not an every day occurance.  Even today in 2011, my husband and I have never had cable and neither have our parents.  Although I must admit I had become a bit of a TV junkie especially in the past year with the adjustment from working mom to stay-at-home mom.
For those who are unfamiliar with the dairy industry, it is a tough business and it doesn’t pay well, but it does teach strong work ethic, integrity and family bonding.  We grew up quite poor without a lot of material things, but bonded for life by our shared experiences on the farm. I truly believe that is why we are still so close today and that is probably why I was able to talk my siblings into joining me on this NO TV 2011 adventure!
Why do I share this with you?  I wrote this for two reasons.  First, to make you understand that it is not only possible to live without television, but it can be quite enjoyable.  Before he left to work this morning my husband actually said, “It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be”.  And no I didnt make that up.  Coming from Jeff, that is a HUGE compliment.  I wholeheartedly believe, that not watching TV is an experience everyone should embrace if even for just a short time in order to find more meaning in life and to develop a better appreciation for those they love.  It really is already leading to many positive changes with my family.  The second reason was for inspiration for my siblings.  I thought reading it might help them if they are struggling to keep the TV turned off.
This is all just food for thought.  I am not trying to piss off Sony, Samsung or any of the other great television manufacturers out there with this blog.  I don't plan to start some crazy TV revolution. Although that does sound kind of fun, I simply don't have the time for it.  I do, however, think it is safe to say that all Americans could benefit from a reduction in time spent in front of the TV (the increase in type II diabetes and childhood obesity are both evidence of that)  I am just taking a stand for my life and my children to ensure that we are getting the most out of life. After all, at the risk of sounding cliché, “we are all only here for such a short time”. It seems silly to spend it in front of a 20 something inch television set sitting on your couch. 
Vern out

Sleep Deprivation

Notice this was written yesterday once I got over the shock of the van ordeal.   Keep that in mind as you read this.  It was actually Thursday night that was rough for me not last night.  Last night I got a much needed regular night's sleep.  I think it is a good one. It's the one that was locked away in my brain yesterday from the shock of the accident with my van. Enjoy!  Vern

Have you ever been so desperate for sleep that you’d have sold a kidney on the black market for just a few hours of good sleep?  I am there today.  Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing.  It seems like mothers have to endure more than their fair share of it too.  The worst part of it, in my opinion, is that it seems to be like running as far as conditioning goes.  With running, I have to train and condition my body to function properly during a run.  Sleep deprivation is the same. Your body learns to function on very little sleep over time.  Time is the key in this process either way with running or sleeping.   It takes time for you to adjust.  When my kids were newborns, for instance, I seemed to function just fine on very little sleep.  I would get 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night and still feel safe to drive the next day without hitting anything. 
Well then your kids grow up which is a beautiful thing. You slowly get back to a fairly normal sleep pattern which is also a beautiful thing and then “Bam!” it happens.  You get dished up a night like last night for me and you swear you are going to die from sheer exhaustion alone.  And then to make matters worse, you decide to go to the gym because you are trying to be good.  You are trying to overcome the tiredness to stop it in its tracks. And then “Bam!!!” you clip the edge of your garage with the van.  The worst part is, it does leave a mark--A great BIG one on the van and a somewhat smaller and more obscure one on the side of the garage.  Oh shit.
My youngest, Hazel, is now 14 months, so I have enjoyed at least 10 or 11 consecutive months of good sleeping.  I know that is pretty impressive, isn’t it?  Most parents are not so lucky.  It was the same with all three of my kids by 7 weeks they were sleeping through the night sporadically and by 10 weeks my kids had the sleeping thing down to a science. I don’t mean to brag and I am sure that some moms out there reading this are down right pissed at me for having children who sleep so well.  I do realize that I am just truly blessed in the sleep department. That is I had a great sleep pattern, until last night. 
Hazel decided to wake about every two hours and cry for no good reason.  As far as I could tell there was nothing wrong with her.  I suspect it may have been associated with teething, or a full moon, who really knows?  Anyways, at about 4 this morning (I say “about 4” because once you have been up so frequently in the same night you lose all concept of time) So the exact time I am not certain of but I do know that it was the fourth time that I had been awakened by our screaming child.  I was desperate, completely, totally embarrassingly, desperate. I had already changed her diaper, given her a drink and tried to give her a snack.  I had rocked her, bounced her, hugged her and dropped her on her head (just kidding).  Thankfully that did not happen.  She wasn’t really interested in any of the offerings I had made her.
On this fourth trip, I changed her pajamas on the off shot that she had something (that I could not see or feel) lodged inside of them causing her discomfort.  I had to get serious or it was clear I would get no sleep. It was also clear that I was going to have to resort to drugs. I decided on the very popular trifecta of Tylenol, Orajel and breastmilk. It seemed logical for the most part.  The Tylenol and Orajel are pretty much standard issue options for parents in similar sleep deprivation situations. They were nothing special.  Now the  breastmilk that was a different story.  The breastmilk was something special. While breastmilk is a logical soothing medium for babies who are actively nursing, it is somewhat less logical for Hazel who had been weaned for well over a week. All of her crying had caused some milk to start leaking out, so I decided to give it a try.  How could things possibly get worse.  I had nothing to lose, right? 
She nursed fine for about five minutes and it did seem to soothe her and calm her down.  It was working! But then it happened and very unexpectedly.  She bit me and really hard too.  I nearly lost my left nipple from the whole ordeal.  It was awful.  I shrieked loudly enough to scare Hazel and start the whole damn crying cycle over again.  Well needless to say, the night was a long one, but we did survive and without a trip to the ER to have my left nipple reattached and more importantly without watching TV.  Praise the lord for that.