Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stayin alive

Holy smokes.  I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote on here.  The entire formatting has changed since I've been on here.  I am kind of scared to post this.  What if it totally blows up our entire blog? 

So life is trucking along business as usual. I'm still running, still reading, still writing (not enough though apparently) and still relaxing when life allows for it although not enough relaxation happening lately. 

Anyhow, we still haven't come to much of an agreement about the whole television issue at our house for long term, but for right now we have tv days and no-tv days.  The schedule goes something like this MWF/Sunday tv is allowed, T/TH/Saturday no tv allowed.  I do understand basic math and I realize I got the bad end of this deal. I get one less quiet, tv-free day each week.  However, I am home all day everyday with the kids and we leave the television off other than for a half hour at the end of the tv allowed days if everyone's been good.  Lately we have not been watching much afternoon television because my kids have been pretty much awful this week.  At least I get a break when I go to the Aquatic Center to work out!

A bit of a confession: I made the ill advised decision to get just two balloons at the store the other day.  When you have three kids, buying two balloons is a very bad idea.  Don't every do that.  Not ever. Anyhow, I had just two kids with me at the store so I thought (foolishly I might add) that my kids would be able to handle sharing these two beautiful balloons.  AJ has been wanting a balloon for months and he earned a dollar cleaning up trash at Kara's school trail clean-up last week.  A guy stopped and handed him a dollar.  Since he was the only one who came to help me since Kara was sick I felt he should get a balloon out of the deal.  He saved that dollar to get a balloon and so I ended up at the store with two kids buying the balloons.  Fast forward a couple of days and you will find me completely frazzled while listening to my three children fighting non-stop since the ill advised purchase had occured over the balloons and you'd have found me ripping the balloons out of their hands and throwing them out the door. 

But not before I explained to them the old program at Fremont Public Schools when I was a kid and we released the balloons each year with contact information on them hoping that we would receive a letter back from who ever found it.  And I even helped them to do the same and we had so much fun setting the balloons free! The kids watched them as they disappeared over the horizon and squealed with delight as they watched.  Who knows if we will ever hear from anyone, probably not.  But at least it solved my immediate problem without more crying and whining.  And it was actually a lot of fun for all of us and most importantly it didn't involve the use of the television. 

Tomorrow I get to run with  some of my running buddies!  I can't wait for the break from the kids and for the exercise, for the conversation and possibly most of all for the post run coffee since it is going to be cold and rainy!
Vern Out

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Where the red fern grows

Since March is National Reading month (or something like that), Kara and I have spent even more time than usual reading.  If we are not outdoors playing with our rocks or otherwise enjoying nature, then you can bet we are indoors enjoying a good book.  Part of the reading deal is that we also have a chapter book we are working on at all times. At many critical point during the past few years I would recall lines from the book "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls.  If you haven't read it, check it out from the library and read it at once.  Really no one should go through life without having experienced this one.  It was one of the standard issue reading books when I was in fifth grade, but I am not sure if kids are still reading it today in English class. But they should be if they aren't.  Maybe that is what's wrong with our society?

Anyhow, I hadn't read it since fifth grade, but the message about meeting God halfway and working hard to achieve your goals really stuck in my head even after all these years.  Plus I simply love dogs so I decided to get it and read it for our most recent chapter book.  Boy I am so glad that I did.  Even though I didn't get through it without some tears.  It really is an exceptional book. I still had my original copy from back in the day on my old book shelf at my parent's place. The last time we ventured north I picked it up and we read it quickly in less than a week.  Kara absolutely loved it.  And now when something is really hard she will say "Billy Coleman would ask God for help and then work for a really long time to do it".  Way cool.  Then Friday night we had movie night and watched the flick (thanks Kate for the loan).  Miraculously, Kara liked the book better than the movie!  I never thought I'd hear her say that as she is my biggest TV junkie (after Jeff).

Anyhow, that is what we've been up to not much happening on the telly although we did watch the movie and we did tune in to the NCAA games last night.

Vern Out

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From Rocky to rocks

From Rocky to rocks life is such a tremendous gift.  While I enjoyed watching Rocky a few weeks ago, I am glad to be back to (mostly) tv-free life. We have been enjoying the glorious weather that God has provided recently by pretty much living outdoors.  We haven't even eaten indoors for over a week.  And even this week with slightly cooler temperatures, it still seems pretty great for March. Being outdoors has led us to do some new cool things the past couple of weeks. 

We adopted a tree!  Our old friend Mr. Oak Tree has been officially adopted by us.  We are at the library getting books about oak trees right now and Friday we plan to do bark rubs and take him a treat!

Kara has started a rock collection and she absolutely loves looking for new rocks.  She is now working to list them all complete with names and thorough descriptions.  Jeff is working to teach her about different types of rocks since he is a geologist after all.  I figure not only is it good to get outdoors and search for rocks, writing all of this stuff is great for her reading and writing skills.  Maybe someday she will follow in my footsteps and take up writing!

We have already walked several miles out back and I've run several more on the Brainy Day loop and usually this time of year it is way too muddy for such adventures so we are loving it!  I am thinking we may start a rock garden to go with my AWESOME new herb garden compliments of Miranda and Mark (thanks guys).  That will be another way to put our rocks to good use and I think the kids will enjoy it!  Maybe we'll make rock pets too.  Man the possibilities are endless no wonder Jeff studied rocks for so long!

Aven has been busy playing with his dinosaurs and new tow truck that his Grandma S. gave him.  He sure is active these days getting him to take a nap is no longer an issue because by two he is worn out and ready to sleep!

Hazel is still busy creating messes and table dancing at the library.  Not much has changed with her.

We had been watching Dinosaur Train for a half hour of tv each day, but this week no one has asked for it so the telly has been off! Yippee! 

I think we will make a big pot of stone soup to tie into the whole rock theme next week.  We have done this before and the kids LOVE it.  Just add a fairly clean stone to your average rice and whatever soup and the kids will eat it up!

Vern Out

Friday, March 16, 2012


I met with a coach yesterday and much to everyone's surprise it wasn't a running coach.  As addicted to running as I am, I actually met with a writing coach.  It seems kind of silly to me to have a writing coach; I mean it's not like I typically break a sweat while writing. But I guess like any skill writing takes practice and who better to help you practice than a coach!  It was an extremely helpful meeting and I have all kinds of ideas for writing my book and now I feel like maybe I really can do it! 

On the television front, our TV has pretty much been on non stop for the past ten days.  Unfortunately, I am serious.  We've been watching PBS kids like it's going off the air and will never be shown again. Not ever.  And at night we've been watching movies and all kinds of low quality night time television programming.  This is all true because our kids have all been sick with a nasty cold, flu like bug and I am going crazy having to care for them and listen to them whine and clean up their nasty germ riden messes and be a mom.  I guess you win some, you lose some. 

I would be remise if I didn't mention March Madness.  Even if you aren't a sports nut, it's kind of a big deal.  The past two nights basketball has been filling the house with all kinds of excitement. Tonight more so than last night.  I can't believe Lehigh just won; I can't believe Duke just lost!  Since my husband is a Duke hater (and I try to be a supportive wife) I am a very happy lady right now despite the ridiculous amount of television that we have been watching the past several days.  Tomorrow my goals in life are simple.  I am going to go for a run and I am finally going to enjoy the incredible weather that has been going on around here.  I don't care if it means I have to drag sick kids along with me.  So be it. I will be outdoors not inside watching the telly.

Vern Out

Monday, March 5, 2012


It finally happened!  Last night we watched Rocky!  It was pretty good too.  I can see why it won awards and has become a classic.  The one shocking thing is that he never actually ran through the snow carrying fallen trees like I had been visualizing during my late night runs out back.  Jeff thinks that might happen in part two or three and I am not committed enough to searching through multiple movies trying to find it. I've heard the others are not as good anyways so I am happy just to have seen Rocky and to have the visual picture of him running through snow with trees over his back in my mind even if they are fabricated images that I have created on my own.  It still motivates me to run when it's cold and snowy and that is what matters most.  His training outfits were very similar to what I run in when I go out back too so that cracked me up.  That I run in clothes that look like they are straight out of the 70's is pretty funny to me.

Other than that we had an action packed weekend. Jeff and I celebrated our 8th anniversary at Hearthstone in Muskegon Friday.  The kids and I went to visit my sister and her family saturday and Sunday we brought my nephew home with us for a super cool sleepover.  Now we are making the most of our time left together.  He goes home this afternoon and then we head directly to our nightly MOPS meeting from the rendezvous location in Grand Rapids!  Other than Rocky and the MSU basketball game I had a television free weekend.  I still say GO GREEN even though they didn't look so good yesterday.  I guess they are saving their best ball for March Madness and the Big Ten Tournament this week!

Vern Out

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


So the last time I played a game of soccer I was twenty two and it was a fierce game of back yard ball with a bunch of young Mexican kids while Shahla Bolbolan and I were vacationing in Puerto Vallarta.  They actually seemed impressed that a couple of American girls would play at all and they didn’t kick us out so I think we did okay.  Maybe they just liked watching us run around.  That said, I wasn’t good. Every single boy out on the field was superior to me and some of them were just 8 or 9 years old.  I was just mediocre at best, but I did run the entire time and I didn’t get hurt.  It rained for a better part of the game and it was so much fun to just run around in the rain and mud and try to kick the ball. 

Now fast forward about twelve years to the present time and you will find me playing in an organized soccer league in Muskegon tonight as a sub.  I gave fair warning to the team that I have never played organized soccer (unless the game in Mexico counts) and that I don't know the rules or strategy.  They must have been desperate because they still wanted me! 

It is not going to be pretty, but I figure I ran a marathon so I can do it!  Say a little prayer for me that I won’t get hurt.  I don’t mind being humbled and a bit embarrassed.  I expect that.  A repeat of the Mexico experience would be welcomed. I would be the worst one on the field, but at least I wouldn't get hurt.  I just don’t want some soccer injury to interfere with my little running addiction.  Today instead of watching the television, I will be mentally preparing for and attempting to play soccer!

Vern Out

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Split personalities and other psychotic episodes

I apologize for the recent lapse in updates.  I have been busy writing my book and caring for my kids who seem to be on a never ending rotation of different health ailments.  Now I have caught the latest version of cold virus that has worked its way through our house so I am battling it and trying to stay caught up with everything while my in-laws are away for 18 days which means I have much less support than usual and I am likely about to experience another episode!  Anyhow, I wanted to give everyone a bit of a sneak peak at one of the chapters for my book.  This is a ROUGH draft so you may find all kinds of errors.  If you do, just let me know!  I hope you will read it, enjoy it and give me your feedback so I can make improvements!

Heavy TV viewers exhibit five dependency symptoms--two more than necessary to arrive at a clinical diagnosis of substance abuse.

            These symptoms include: 1) using TV as a sedative; 2) indiscriminate viewing; 3) feeling loss of control while viewing; 4) feeling angry with oneself for watching too much; 5) inability to stop watching; and 6) feeling miserable when kept from watching (TV-Free America, 2000).

            During the year without television I developed a split personality.  Well technically it was split into many pieces, many personalities. As such I am not sure if that is still considered a split personality or if it is a fifths personality, but on any account I started pretending to be other people.  Keep in mind I have no formal drama training or experience so this stretched my skill set considerably, but all things considered I think I did pretty well.
            My personal favorite is Ursula the hairdresser.  Ursula came out after all the baths to ensure that everyone got their hair brushed and styled.  She is from Eastern Europe and has a strong accent. An accent that likely sounds nothing like one of an eastern European dialect, but I don’t let that stop me.  Practice makes perfect and I did practice a lot.  The kids so love Ursula that I find myself morphing into her on a regular basis still to this day. 
            I also play a restaurant worker, named Martha. Her voice sounds like a cross between Mrs. Doubtfire and Julia Child and she acts as flamboyant as Liberace. Even I think she is a bit silly and extravagant.  Then again I have done a lot of silly things in my day so who am I to judge?  Again the kids eat her up so at meal time she usually makes an appearance especially if the kids aren’t eating well and need some entertaining encouragement. 

            I am also an athletic trainer named Groove. Like Madonna and Cher, she works on a one name basis.  That is how incredibly cool and famous she is.  Groove is an energetic, fit-as-can-be, work-out enthusiast and she has the personality that is most like my own.  We get along great and because we are so alike I get a little reprieve from my overzealous acting when Groove comes over to lead an aerobics or pilates class.  She has led us on many adventures of the calorie burning variety.  Sometimes to make it more fun, we exercise in costume.  That is when I get out my old legwarmers and leotard and the kids sport princess dresses or bathing suits!

            Toward the end of the year I developed yet another personality known as Super Mommy!!!  Super Mommy is a super hero mother who rushes to aid children with any need; no task is too small nor too difficult for Super Mommy.  All that is needed to get her attention is good manners and a simple request for Super Mommy services.  I wish I could say I have a cool spandex suit and a cape for this role, but I am just not that good at sewing.  A home-made cape that is nothing more than a baby blanket with brightly colored stripes on it has to suffice for my costume.  The voice and the sound effects are what really make this one popular anyways so the outfit isn’t too important.   Super Mommy occasionally leaps off from furniture or climbs up on the counters to accomplish her heroic acts.  A regular mom, like myself, would never attempt such ill advised stunts. But for Super Mommy the stunts are super simple!

            Sometimes I not only change personalities, but I become another species altogether an imaginary one at that.  Occasionally it is necessary to become a monster in order to accomplish cleaning of our house.  When this is necessary the cleaning monster appears (aka Me) and once the goofy cleaning monster gets involved children become inexplicably more cooperative and helpful.  The cleaning monster has helped to clean our house more times than I can count and the kids know better than to argue with the Cleaning Monster because he might bite!

            A few times I nearly lost my mind.  For real.  I know what you are thinking.  She is being dramatic; she is exaggerating. But truly during the year there were a couple times that I probably was legally crazy, or insane, or whatever they call it nowadays.  I think the proper term is a "psychotic break", but I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that I nearly lost my mind living without television, but oddly enough I would still do it all over again.  Call me crazy!

            One such occasion was when the kids were all sick and then as they were all finally getting over it I unfortunately caught their gastrointestinal illness. I think the words (borrowed from one of my all-time favorite movies, Christmas Vacation) I used to describe those couple of days on my blog were, “we have arrived at the threshold of hell”.  It was that bad.  In short the kids were feeling really good and I was feeling really bad.  I thought I was going to lose my sanity in this instance.  The kids were in need of entertainment and I was not up to the challenge.  A few critically important items got us through this ordeal without watching television and without permanent mental health implications. And they were, in order of importance, books, books and more books.  We read for about forty eight hours straight only breaking for mommy’s frequent trips to the bathroom.  This was without question one of the toughest times during the year and I was definitely precariously perched on the edge of insanity (and the toilet) on several occasions during this particular episode.   

            A couple of times I self diagnosed mental health conditions. Once according to Dr. Me, (who lacks any form of training or experience with mental health or psychology mind you) I had Bipolar disorder and I’m pretty sure I may actually have ADHD.  Ask my friends. Unfortunately it’s true.  These diagnoses seemed likely given the circumstances at the time.  Due to the enormous mood swings I experienced a couple times I was fairly certain that Bipolar Disorder was coming on late in life for me. And though he would never admit it, I am pretty sure my husband shared the opinion.  I do know that Bipolar Disorder usually affects people in their late teens or early twenties and is defined by major highs and lows in mood. But even given my advanced age, I thought perhaps I was an exception to that rule.  Maybe I was a late bloomer because I definitely experienced some serious highs and lows generally in direct relation to Aunt Flo’s visits.  It was intensely awful and gave me a new respect for people who actually suffer from Bipolar Disorder.

            The ADHD is just a matter of how I operate.  I forget things easily, am easily distracted and I have a hard time sitting still and focusing.  I’m basically a classic case of ADHD.  These were all true long before I started participating in television-free living, but in certain situations my ADHD caused problems.  For instance, in the beginning I once forgot that we were living without television and my five-year old had to remind me as I was getting ready to tune into Ellen.  Occasionally while entertaining the kids, I would lose focus and wander off to my own little world and the kids would have to rein me back into my role as entertainment specialist in their own little world.  I don’t believe in taking pills. I just don’t.  This comes from years of conditioning while living with my parents. 

            However, at one point during the year I had forgotten enough stuff and felt unfocused enough that I decided to self medicate my self diagnosed ADHD with Ginkgo Biloba.  A good friend had recommended it so I figure it was worth a try.  It didn’t work very well.  First of all, I had to remember to take it and that was very hard for me.  I mean I was taking it because I felt forgetful.  Anyhow, operating on roughly half the recommended dosage, I would still routinely forget stuff and I still couldn’t focus very well.  About five weeks into my experiment I quit.  It worked for my friend, but not for me.   Over all, it all worked out okay for us.  We survived the year and you know what they say, “if it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger”.  Who are they anyways? I think I’m hearing voices?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stayin' alive

So I am thankful that the year of no TV is technically over now.  This past week two of my kids have had equally awful, yet oddly different, health situations going on.  Kara has been unable to stop coughing for like ten days now and Aven had the cough, got over it, spent a fair amount of time puking and has just been doing his very best to keep me busy for the past week.  His main means of doing so has been by puking in his sleep four out of the past five nights.  He will be fine all day long and then go to sleep and puke all over his bed.  The amount of time I have spent decontaminating this place has been excruciating. As a result, I have not been reading, writing, running or relaxing much; instead I've just been cleaning and then when I get done cleaning I start all over again.  And anyone who knows me, or has seen my house or van, knows that I am not known for my cleaning talents.  I do think that perhaps all of my effort has paid off as nobody else has started vomitting in their sleep and the cough has not been passed on to anyone else either.  Although, ironically, now that Aven is past the forty eight hour mark for his puking, it seems he has started coughing again. 

I just thought I'd let everyone know that we are still alive and hopefully some day soon I will actually get to leave my house and venture out into the world of the living!  There are a couple of silver linings in this crappy situation and those are that I am still healthy and that I have made a ton of progress on my book since I have been stuck here at the house and that I can seriously only clean so much before I start to go bonkers.  On the flip side, the kids have watched more television and movies in the past week than they have watched in the past fourteen months combined which stresses me out a little, but if I don't keep them entertained with the television it seems they create more messes.  Sometimes I just can't win, but I never quit.  That's one of my best qualities.

Vern Out

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quick update

Today is one of those days.  I have a ton of stuff going on today and I don't have a clear idea as to what I am going to write about this morning.  I guess what I should share with everyone is that I have watched quite a bit of television the last couple of days some of it was with good cause (educational in nature) and some of it was just to take my mind off things.  I have a good friend who just found out some pretty scary medical stuff and it has really led me to get a bit too philosophical and emotional this week.  Therefore, last night I spent about an hour watching silly sitcoms.  I guess sometimes television is a good thing because for that hour I didn't think about all of the emotional stuff going on with my friend.  Today I am hoping to work on my book some more although this book writing is much more grueling than I ever imagined. 

Last weekend Jeff and I watched Hot Tub Time Machine and I will just say that that is ninety minutes of my life that I am not getting back and I am not happy about that.  I was disappointed that John Cusack would do such a ridiculous movie.  We still are working out long term television watching rules.  Still during the day the kids and I do not watch any television other than the Letter Facory which is aired each day at four when Kara gets off the school bus.  It teaches letters to preschoolers and my kids are learning a lot so I feel okay allowing this one.  I still have not fit in Ellen.  I keep meaning to watch it, but it just never works out.

Vern Out

Friday, February 3, 2012

Still reading, writing and relaxing

I am still reading (I'm on book number 5 for the year!), writing (I'm on Chapter 7 of my book) and lately relaxing (I've been in the jetted tub twice in the past week) too!  But I haven't been running.  Actually I have not run in the past 72 hours and it feels very strange to not be running.  After 58 days of consecutive days spent running, this is very strange indeed.  Yesterday, I did ride on a stationary bike at the Aquatic Center. This biking outing was immediatly following four hours of heavy duty house cleaning at the old house. I needed a break and that felt strange as well to ride a bike instead of run, but I am trying to give my legs a true break from running.  Tomorrow morning I will be back at it running my first organized race since the marathon when I take on the Fremont Frostbite 10K.  I can't wait to lace up and hit the road.  And depending on how things go I might just start up another streak.  We'll see. 

Today we are working to clean house, hang pictures and otherwise prepare to watch the Super Bowl with friends at our place.  The kids are also on a Dino-sports mission.  There is a really cute series of Dino-Basketball, Dino-Soccer, Dino-Baseball, Dino-Hockey etc, etc books that we have checked out of the library.  We read Dino-Baseball this morning which totally got me in the mood for some Tigers Baseball. Sometimes, even though I despise television, I wish for cable television just to watch their games.  However, WLAV does a great job broadcasting them on the radio so I just listen instead.

Anyhow, not much else happening here.  Hazel was singing Jesus Loves Me atop the table the other day while we were here (at the library) but today she is silenced by the babies that she is helping to use the potty.  If only she would start using the potty more regularly, then we could be a diaper free zone!

Vern out

Monday, January 30, 2012

I got a facelift!

Friday night I was worried that we might get bored over the weekend because we had our first weekend in a very long time with no plans at all.  Nothing pLANneD and I was still planning to entertain without the use of the television.  Jeff was going to be gone all weekend working on the old house.  In short, there was a whole lot of weekend and I was not feeling particularly creative or energetic and I was worried.

Well we ended up having a super fun sleepover with our cousins.  Who would have guessed that adding three kids to the mix would actually make my life easier? I managed to fit in a run each day although it did involve running in place and then around our house repeatedly one day in order to do so. The kids really thought I had lost it, but before they knew what hit them, I had recruited them, and trained them and we were all running around the house singing silly songs and dancing along the way!  They all ran 1.25 miles that day too!

I have one confession to make.  In order to make it, I did have to lower my standards.  My new minimum is 1.25 miles so that helped me to keep up the streak and that is the distance I ran each day this weekend.  I still think it is pretty good; I am up to 57 days. And considering I also danced like an out of control rock star on Friday at the cardio dance class and did like a million leg lifts thanks to our super ambitious instructor, I was actually fairly sore all weekend and needed a bit of a break.

Anyhow, I also created an impressive ice cream parlor and the kids loved it!  We had eight flavors and seven toppings and I think they liked it better than TCBY.  My kids had no idea what an ice cream parlor was until I showed them and then they were so impressed that they kept asking for an icecream parlor all weekend.  This morning they wanted ice cream parlor for breakfast!  Don't worry we had oatmeal parlor instead!  It wasn't as successful, but they did each each two servings!

So in short, I did not get a traditional facelift this weekend, but I did make myself feel younger and more energetic.  If you are feeling old and run down, then you may want to fire up a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek with a bunch of kids a fraction of your age in order to revitalize you. This weekend was better than a facelift at making me feel better, younger.  Well to be completely honest, I have never had a facelift so I can't really compare the two fairly, but still I felt really young and vibrant all weekend and it has carried over into Monday.  Forget the face creams and botox; a good hide and seek will do the trick.  I felt like I was 15 for a few hours this weekend as we all ran around our house in the dark playing hide and seek.  Actually I am still feeling fresh and young today so the affects may be long lasting!  Besides that the recovery time is nothing from hide and seek and like you have banages all over your face from the real stuff.  Plastic surgeons, Revlon and Covergirl better all watch out!

Vern Out

Thursday, January 26, 2012

God is good

This is like three week old news.  Not that I watch a lot of television, but I have seen those clever commercials where everyone's cell phones are competing to have the best, most instantaneous updates at the office.  Well I lose out on that competition big time with the breaking of this news.  My cell phone is not fast either because it doesn't even have internet capabilties. Anyhow, this is like so three weeks ago and here's the story...

I threw the portable DVD player into the massive dumpster that has been parked outside our new house for the past six months.  I did this in dramatic fashion too after Aven had destroyed its power cord.  I wrote about my concern for his temper over the DVD player awhile back.  And it just kept getting worse so I had packed the DVD player away under the seat.  We were no longer going to use it unless we were driving over two hours.  In case you didn't read the prior post, he would become what I would describe as being violent or at the very least agitated if we arrived places and he could not finish watching a show he had started and it was becoming a major problem since a majority of the places we frequent are within a five mile radius.

Anyhow, he snuck and pulled the DVD player out and in the process tore the cord apart.  I am not sure if it was done maliciously or not because I was not there at the time.  But it doesn't really matter.  I have been teaching my children that when things become broken, we throw them away.  I am hoping this will lead to them taking better care of their stuff.  Anyhow, when I saw the damage he had done, I decided that we were really done with DVD players at least for a few years and I threw the whole thing into the dumpster.  Problem solved. No more car movies and best of all Mommy's happy.

I haven't watched Rocky yet, but one of my book club friends is going to loan it to me so I will be watching it sometime in February.  I suspect this will likely be my anniversary entertainment since Jeff is not exactly the Casanova type.  On a somewhat related note, I did run Rocky style today with Stan and I while I still can't handle dragging downed trees with me, I am getting faster out on the trail.

Now a little God is good note.  I had a very busy day.  I had to paint and work all day at our old house (we're getting it ready to be rented out) and I had to volunteer at Kara's classroom as well.  I bought a coffee and super yummy EcoTrek Fitness bar on my way to her school because I had not eaten lunch yet and I needed some nutrition.  And after the bar was finished I found myself saying "God, I wish I had some kind of chocolate to go with the rest of this coffee" and low and behold I found a mini payday in my purse a few minutes later; the best part of the story is that the payday came from the Evergreen Ministries Women's Retreat I attended a couple weeks ago. I had completely forgotten about the candy they gave us.  God really does work in some pretty amazing ways.  Today it's candy bars, tomorrow it could be something even bigger!

Vern Out

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Relax Vern relax

I had good intentions.  I really did.  I had the detailed plan that would allow me to read, write, run and relax my way through the year.  Well so far I have only been partly successful.  I have been doing great with the first three items on my list.  The relaxing, however, has been a dismal failure (so far anyways).  I really should have expected this since I have a hard time sitting still for more than five minutes, but for some reason I thought it would just happen. What I have learned is that relaxation doesn't just happen. You have to make relaxation happen; just like a workout, training for a marathon or any other lofty goal, relaxing is hard work.

Tonight I decided to get serious about this whole relaxing thing.  Enough of this pussy footing around; I was gonna RELAX.  And I needed it.  I had spent all day chasing kids (my own and my sister's) around the FFA 100 Year Celebration in Fremont.  Prior to that I supervised a visit to my grand parent's house.  This is always interesting and proved to be just that.  Among other things it involved a small dog chasing balls all over the house, a seriously impressive block fortress, a highly detailed lumber yard production operation and a fist fight.  Just kidding, but it did at one point actually involve my son punching my Grandma; it was not that hard, but still I was mortified.  At about four, I decided I had had enough and I needed to head home to relax. We hit the road once the van was loaded and the kids enticed into the van with treats.  Bribery is a beautiful thing!

I then headed home with every intention of relaxing as soon as I got there only to have my eldest child start puking all over the van about ten minutes from home.  Why couldn't the puking have started eleven minutes later when we were home?  This of course warranted a thorough cleaning of our van and two loads of laundry, a decontamination bath and cooking of Chicken Noodle Soup.  Thank goodness for Campbells and Lysol.

Once things settled down, my mind of course returned to thoughts of soaking in my jetted bath tub after a quick run which I needed to do solely for the purpose of preserving the streak.  Had it not been day 49, I totally would have dismissed the possibility of a run.  Anyhow, as soon as the kids were tucked in, I ran about two miles through the snow with Stan and headed home to my tub.  Relaxing was sure to follow.  I did fill it with piping hot water and sat in it for about a half an hour with the jets on high before I decided to go all out and actually shave my legs! 

When I got out I realized that even relaxing doesn't come free.  My tub was a mess from all the leg hairs.  I then spent several minutes in various awkward positions trying to cleanse and dry the tub and its surrounding area.  Given the amount of acrobatic maneuvers required to properly clean my tub, I really felt like cleaning it was just another workout.  It resembled yoga.  And I was still naked at the time.  Wrapped hastily in a towel, but naked nonetheless.  What I really need is a young Latino to be my tub boy.  That would be really cool; and that would really help to improve my relaxing goal for the year.  I did have every intention to keep on relaxing until Kara just woke up with a night terror and now I am helping to soothe her while I try to type one handed.  And she just started puking again.  I better go.  I have too much to do tonight.  Looks like any further relaxing will have to wait until later.  Relaxation is not in the cards for me tonight after all.  At least I tried.

Vern Out

Friday, January 20, 2012


Lately when I have been running out in this less than desirable winter weather, I have been seeing clips from Rocky playing in my head.  It really pumps me up and makes me feel invinsible when I think that I am running through the rugged, snow covered woods just like Rocky did!  If only I could figure out a way to stack some fallen trees on my shoulders while I run, then I would be really buff; then I'd be Rocky tough.  I just keep waiting for The Eye of the Tiger to blast out over the winter wonderland filling the air with something other than bitter cold, but so far it hasn't happened. Maybe tomorrow.  Anyhow,  I have been running in the inclement weather often enough that I have gone and gotten myself in the mood to watch Rocky. 

This is quite strange to me since I have never actually watched the entire movie, just bits and pieces here and there.  I may just do it too;  I might just sit and watch Rocky sometime soon.  I bet I can even rent it from the library so Jeff won't complain about how much it costs! Praise God for this!  For the most part, I still do not watch television and if I do happen to watch something our blog followers are the first to know. So if indulge and I do watch Rocky it will be a true treat and you will hear all about it!  Maybe I can get some ideas of how to spice up my workout by watching it.  I will consider it research.

Today we did a courses lunch.  This means that I serve the kids little dabs of all the leftovers in the fridge to clear it out.  In order to make the whole thing seem more exciting I label it a course meal; makes it seem fancier I guess because it works every time with my kids.  They were so excited and ate so good that I treated them to a viewing of the alphabet video that Miranda passed on to me.  It is a half hour show that helps the kids learn their letters and the sounds that each letter makes. And it works.  Those songs sure are catchy; I've been singing G says guh, D says duh and P says puh for the past 15 minutes (among others). 

This weekend the kids and I are heading to Fremont to spend some quality time with my family, visit my Grandparents and attend the FFA's 100 year celebration at the high school.  I will likely find myself running through some more winter weather.  While I run, I am sure I will either be singing the Rocky theme song or alphabet jingles. But I am not complaining. At least I am healthy enough to run and motivated enough to have run 48 consecutive days (and counting).

Vern out

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Running is this wind and snow is adventure enough by itself.  When you throw in a dog, a broken pair of Yak Tracks, wet socks, a runny nose, and a partridge in a pear tree (oh wait that is another song all together)  you get a very interesting running adventure.  I must have looked similar to Jim Carrey in dumb and dumber (when he arrived in Colorado with snotcicles)  after the run today, but the streak is alive and I believe it is day 47!!!

I am working to get the NOTV book written and that is taking a significant amount of time.  I have new ideas thanks to a lunch date with a friend who published a book  entitled, If I Cant Be At Your Feet. It is a great read; you really should check it out.  Orchard Market Stores carry it at their Service Counter check outs and it is a really great story.

I am also trying to clean our old house to get it ready to rent (If anyone knows someone looking to rent a house starting in February please contact me  The house is on M-104 near Magnum Coffee.  It would be a great starter home for a new family and it has great access to work in GR, Muskegon or the tri cities. 

I haven't been watching television the past few days I have been too busy!

Vern Out

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Unusual inspiration

Sometimes inspiration for writing comes in the most strange and unexpected ways.  And at the most strange and unexpected locations.  This morning I was trying to find something to write about and I tried several different starts without success.  There are a bunch of drafts stored on our blog from my futile writing this morning.  Anyhow, I tried writing about how I am turning from an early bird to a night owl.  It didn't work.  Then I tried writing about running which usually goes well for me, but surprisingly it flopped too.  I tried writing about winter, sports, friends, religion, traffic and they all failed.  So I turned the computer off and cleaned up the house in preparation for our new refrigerator and a visit from the plumbers to determine why we don't get hot water in the kitchen sink or the downstairs shower.  Then we headed to McDonalds to our rendevous to pick up Aven and as the kids started playing I was inspired. 

I don't care how many germs are harbored on these playland surfaces or how disgusting some claim playlands to be; McDonald playlands are still priceless to me!  I know these playlands get all kinds of bad press, but I am here to tell you they are great. If I am not mistaken, some crazy lady actually staged some kind of sit in trying to get one removed for its uncleanliness or something.  Well I am hoping that these little playlands are around for a very long time, at least until my kids have outgrow them, because they do have the best time playing here and I think that despite their bad reputation they are a great invention.  A wonderfully fun place for kids to be active, learn to play together with others and practice being creative.  And my kids have never gotten sick after spending an afternoon here.

Plus we got lunch for all of us for under ten dollars.  Now granted it is not the healthiest meal, but every once in awhile I don't think it is a bad thing.  Plus we smuggled in bananas to eat for dessert.

Anyhow, I am absolutely loving this time here.  I can relax while they play. Or I can play if I feel like it and they get so excited when I do that.  This is way better than watching any television show although last night I did spend about an hour watching a variety of different clips of shows (Jeff loves to channel surf).  We caught glimpses of Antiques Road Show, Two and  a Half Men and Mike and Molly.  I was just exhausted from running and dancing so as I half heartedly worked to unpack more boxes (which for the record seem to reproduce asexually because once I think I have finally finished more magically appear in our garage) and I saw Jeff relaxing on the couch, I decided to join the recliner in its mission to hold down the carpeting. I will admit this time with the recliner was just what I needed even though it did include television watching.

Vern Out  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Productive snoring

I never thought I would find myself describing snoring as productive, but today I would say it applies to my current state of affairs...So I am totally sitting on the bathroom floor at the City Flats Hotel wishing for a roommate of the non-snoring variety.  I just can't sleep when people snore so when the unfortunate snoring awoke me at five this morning, of course I took it as a sign from God that I should get my early morning run out of the way since the rest of the day is going to be spent at our retreat being filled by the words of God and then once I return home dealing with the fall out from being gone for the past 24 hours .  I suited up and hit the road.  I returned a few moments ago and the snoring has not improved if anything it has gotten louder.

To share the story of the run as I so oftentimes do, it went something like this:  First of all, I nearly went for the run at midnight; I've been wanting to do so since I started this silly streak, and someday I will but, all the Evergreen Ministries women were so much fun to hang out with that I didn't want to miss a minute.. I ended up playing games and chatting well after I turned into a pumpkin.  I literally fell asleep while midsentence in a conversation with my roomies.  When the snoring awoke me at five I decided to take advantage instead of getting mad so I used my indiglo Timex light to search for my running clothes. 

Once I found enough clothes that I felt I would effectively ward off frostbite, I headed to the bathroom. I once again used my watch to locate the toilet because the light switches here are not exactly normal and I can not for the life of me figure out how to turn the bathroom light on.maybe that is how this place maintains Gold level LEED standards; they just make anything that takes energy too complicated to use.  Once dressed and with an empty bladder I headed to the streets of Holland. Due to my uncanny ability to get lost, I stuck to eighth street and ran up and down it as far as I could in each direction.  I ran for 25 minutes and I am calling it 2.5 miles for the day since I was running at a pretty slow pace.  While running the only people awake and outdoors were the plow guys.  The plow guys working on the Pizza Hut parking lot hollered at me that it was "too cold to be out running!"  I just kept on running. I mean they did have a valid point, but given the snoring situation here at the hotel running in the wintery cold seemed preferable.  So this morning I can honestly say that snoring has made me more productive it is only 6AM and my run is done and I have published a post on my blog!

Here at the hotel no television has been used, but I fear that the homefront may be a different story.

Vern Out

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mom's going away!

I am super pumped for a Women's Religious Retreat that I am attending tonight with my best friend, Brandi!  We are staying at the City Flats Hotel in Holland and there is a dynamite line-up of speakers for us.  I can't wait for the fellowship and fun that it will undoubtedly bring.  Jeff is in charge of the kids for his first time (since we joined the world of 3), unassisted, overnight so we will see if everyone is still alive when I get home tomorrow!  Since Jeff is in charge, I am guessing that tonight and the better part of tomorrow will be spent in front of the television, but at least if everyone is safe I guess I can't complain too much.

Yesterday in order to get my running in I ran wind sprints up and down our road for 12 minutes while I waiting for Kara to get home on the bus.  This experience totally took me back to the high-school volleyball practices with my then best friend, Mandy.  We sure rocked those practices and Mandy you'd be proud of my running yesterday if you'd been there.  Too bad I didn't get to play pepper afterwards. Anyhow the wind springs took place in the middle of the snow storm so I am pretty sure my neighbors all suspect I'm crazy now too!  Oh well at least the streak is in tact!  I am up to 41 days of consecutive running!

Other than that I have no books to read right now, because our next book club book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, is apparently extremely coveted and incredibly popular right now and has 39 holds on it at our library and I couldn't find anything else that looked great right now.  It is probably just as well because this weekend is very busy and we still have a lot to do around the house.  Sunday we are throwing my new niece, Breslynn, a super cool baby shower at our house so hopefully Jeff and the kids don't do too much damage while I am gone.

Vern Out

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Does anyone know a good lawyer?

The negotiations are getting tense on the notv homefront and I fear our marriage may be in jeopardy over the whole thing.  I am mostly kidding, but seriously it is getting pretty ugly.  I may have to consult with a lawyer so if you know a good one pass the name along.

The other night I arrived home late (with the kids) after doing a dance class to find Jeff watching television while working on various projects around the house which in and of itself is not such a big deal.  However, he had Two and a Half Men on and there happened to be a steamy bedroom scene unfolding as we sat down to our late dinner.  I shut it off immediately and he seemed irritated with me that I turned it off.  I was definitely irritated with him that he had such an inappropriate show on so early in the evening. 

I watched Water for Elephants last night with the bookclub girls.  We read it a few months ago and the book was much better than the movie which is pretty much always the case as far as I can tell.  We basically sat and picked the movie apart as far as not being up to the standards of the book.  Other than that and the few seconds of Two and Half Men that I caught on Monday night I have still been living television free and I am still running everyday as well.  Today was day 39 (I think. I will have to confirm when I get home.

Vern Out

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Read, write, run and relax

I do realize it's 2012.  But I am going to keep writing on my 2011 blog because I have no idea how to make a new one and I don't have the time to research it and figure it all out.  Maybe someday I will, but right now I am just too busy.  If I do start a new one it will be after the house is all settled and I already have a name for it;  Read, write, run and relax!  That is basically all that I do these days and lately I have not done nearly enough relaxing, but with my sweet bath tub I hope to relax soon.

 Anyhow, one serious omission that I had back when I decided what 2012 would be all about was my writing.  In 2012 I am going to make it my mission in life to continue writing and to seriously work on getting my book published.  Please keep me and my writing in your prayers.

Jeff and I are still busy negotiating the terms of television use in our house now that the year of NOTV is technically over, but to be honest, we may need to involve an arbitrator because it's not going so well.  This weekend with football playoffs on it was easy to follow the old rules so that is what we did, but I do realize this is not a long term sustainable solution.

Anyhow, I am now reading my second book of the year, "Black Heels To Tractor Wheels" by Ree Drummond.  It is a fun, easy and very romantic read. I am really enjoying it.  All of you ladies out there should check this one out!  I also still read to the kids a lot, but tonight they didn't get any books before bed because we were too busy on the fashion runway!

Tonight Kara and I held a fashion show.  It was her idea, but I did go along with it.  I was her model and she was in charge.  That girl loves to be in charge! If she is not a CEO or President of something someday I will be surprised.  She is so the first born stereotype.  I was a good sport. As a middle child, myself, I have always been good at being a good sport. 

I actually wore each dress in my closet, all eleven of them and paraded around our new house like a Victoria's Secret model.  Okay maybe not, but I did act like a pro. The line-up even included my wedding dress.  Each time I put on a new dress Kara had to do an announcement for the crowd (consisting of AJ, Hazel and Dad) about the wardrobe and the model (mom).  Then I had to dance around the room showing off the dress.  I am not really a girly girl, but I tried hard. And sometimes effort is everything!  The good news with all of that was that my dresses are all slightly loose on me!!!  All of the running I have been doing must be paying off after all!  Praise God!  My work is not futile.  Stan and I hit the trail again tonight for day 36 of my running streak. We enjoyed the incredible full wolf moon that is out there and spent about forty minutes wandering on the trails out back!!

I am heading off to get in some relaxing before bed!

Vern Out

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hanging Tough

So far so good...My plan to read, write, run and relax (in my sweet new bath tub) my way through the year seems to be going smashingly well!  I really am blessed to have this nice new home, great friends and family and a growing relationship with God.  I thank Him each day for all of this and for a recent television watching moment that I enjoyed so much. 

The recent MSU Spartan victory in triple over time at the Outback Bowl was INCREDIBLE.  That is one moment in television history that I am certainly glad to have witnessed firsthand.  However, the watching of the MSU game is the only television watching I have done in 2012 (other than the tail end of the Lions game which was a sad one and which I could have definitely lived without). 

We have been too busy packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning, and otherwise playing house to watch much television of late, even sports.  Technically the NOTV deal ended when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Day; I guess the whole thing turned into a pumpkin or something like that. But I have decided to adopt my personal habits as permanent ones so during the day the TV is off. So far the kids have not raised the question about television (fortunately I don't think they understand the concept of a year) so it has been relatively easy to continue living TV free; I have not reached a point where I feel acceptable turning on Ellen so I have not spoiled myself that way...yet.  Maybe by March or April I will have the house together enough to splurge on an episode although I am not entirely sure how to operate our television anymore.  Details, details.  I just hope the kids don't figure out years or that 2012 is a New Year anytime soon because that would make my continued NOTV life much more difficult.

On the reading front, I just read my first book of this year entitled "If I can't be at your feet".  It is a great easy read and for any dog lovers out there you MUST get this and read it.  Also notable about this one is that the author is a local Fruitport resident and her son goes to school with Kara.  It really is a small world.  You can pick a copy up at Orchard Market stores if you are interested.  Next week is book club where we will finally discuss Thornbirds.  It seems like an entire lifetime ago since I read that.  When it comes to writing, I am trying really hard to work on my book stuff more, but I am struggling right now.

Anyhow, I am still running everyday, God willing, until at least April and it does make me feel really great to hit the trail even in this cold, snowy weather.   As an added benefit Stan is LOVING it and I am sure he benefits from the exercise as much as I do.  I take him with me each night and we head out on the trails behind our house.  I must look really bizarre because I have a head lamp on, various out dated pieces of winter clothing, none of which match whatsoever and I run when everyone else is heading to bed.

So I am in the wise words of the New Kids on the Block, "hangin' tough" with NOTV, lots of running, reading and writing.  Hopefully soon I will get in some more relaxing in my sweet tub although with all the work involved with moving to the new house I am not sure this will be the case.

Vern Out

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I'm going streaking!

I may have to reconsider this whole streaking thing at least in the naked sense of the word.  Maybe running around naked would be fun?  I ran tonight in an oversized carhart with a headlamp strapped to my head, no IPOD and our faithful dog, Stan, by my side and that was so much fun. So maybe running stark naked would be fun too.  Not during a snowstorm of course, but maybe on a hot summer's evening it would be invigorating. I don't know though; the way I see it, there are two things I can't get passed with the whole running around naked thing; first I just don't look that great naked and secondly my new next door neighbors are my in-laws so I would have to do so elsewhere and that just seems to add a lot of logistical difficulty to the whole thing.  It makes it rather complicated.  Anyhow, just some food for thought about the other kind of streaking, now about the real streaking I have been doing lately.  Now for the good stuff!

If it weren't for the nonstop football on television today, I would have no idea what day of the week it is. Life has been so completely frazzling-so incredibly busy- the past few days that not only do I not know which way is up, I also have no idea where the toilet paper is, but I do have a kiddie potty residing in my living room. Without toilet paper, I have no idea what I would do if a Kiddie decided to use it, but it is there nonetheless. The point to all of this is when life gets so busy it is easy to lose sight of other priorities because you become consumed by the here and now, by the current crisis.  I nearly succumbed to this a couple times this weekend in regards to my running streak commitment, but I didn't and the streak is ALIVE! 

Friday I planned to run first thing in the morning, but sometimes plans don't go as planned and before I knew it the day had flown by and it was nearly dark out, I hadn't run and we were expected at a party in less than two hours.  I decided after much consideration to just go and run 2 miles, the minimum according to my little running streak rules.  So if you happened to be driving down M-104 or 130th around dusk Friday night you may have been witness to what you perceived to be a crazy lady out running in the wind, rain and mud during crazy rush hour traffic that was me.  If not, I am glad you didn't see me in that moment of craziness.  It was pretty ugly.

Saturday I had a plan to run with a bunch of my running buddies and this time the plan did go as planned!  It was splendid!  Before Jeff showed up with the moving van at nine, I had already logged 5 miles in Grand Haven and drank a cup of celebratory coffee with friends.  Sunday, oh wait that's today, was a different story.  Yes today was another story, another plan gone awry.  I was supposed to run the Sargeant Preston 6 mile run in Muskegon this morning, I even registered and paid for it a couple months ago. But when the big move finally happened this weekend instead of in November like we had "planned", it didn't work out for me to leave home to run.  I was completely disappointed to miss it, but still completely thrilled to finally be in our new home.  All day long I kept thinking, if I miss running today I have to start over at zero.  This line of thought ate at me all day long. Seriously I could think of little else.  When Jeff insisted I go bring a load of stuff from the old house here, I saw an opportunity to squeeze in a run.  Finally at 6:30 tonight in the pitch black darkness that fills the forest separating our old home from the new one, I ran what I figure to be roughly 2 miles of the Brainy Day trail during this blessed storm that is blowing around out there.   And the streak is alive.

Tomorrow I plan to return to the Aquatic Center for a run in the morning.  I realize it is really snowy, but I don't mind the snow for running.  I just hope the weather doesn't get in the way of my plan, but if it does I am sure I can think of some way to fit in a short run. 

Happy New Year and if you are still wondering about the television.  We are sticking with business as usual (that is NOTV 2011 rules) for the short term until we can reach an agreement about how to properly use our television which means that today the telly was on a lot because there were a bunch of football games on.

Vern Out