Smith Kids MSU Tailgate

Smith Kids MSU Tailgate
Dominica, Veronica, Rebel and Miranda

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