Thursday, September 24, 2015

To minivan or not to minivan

Let's face it, parents, that is the question.

Let's take a little trip back in time. Not sure when. Probably circa 2005. I had no ring on my finger. I had no baby on my hip. I thought like this: When I grow up I won't live in a cookie cutter subdivision. When my family is able to take a vacation we will travel to exotic, real places not just amusement parks. Sometimes I'll wear high heels to the ballpark because my short legs look better when they're slightly elongated. And I will not allow practicality to kill my coolness. I mean, I think I'm succeeding in this department. After all,  I wear really thin RayBans even though my son could snap those suckers at any second.


More background: I grew up going to car shows. My father drove hand-me-down clunkers in winter so that when the salt cleared off the Wisconsin roads he could drive his Mustang in spring, summer and fall. Instead of investing our college funds in a bank (by the way, I'm so thankful my mom and dad had a college fund for me) my dad sank money in classic Thunderbirds and then sold them to send us to school. We grew up going to TBird shows. It was awesome.

My husband will tell you he's not really a car guy. That said, he's the son of one of the world's biggest car guys. My in-laws have acquired the most amazing collection of Mercedes Benz cars over the years. My father-in-law is also amazing with building things so he can find a good deal, fix it up, etc.

There's the background. Here's the current situation.

We have a 75 pound dog that likes to travel with us in a massive crate, and all of our family members live in different states than us. We hope to expand our family at some point. And right now, when we travel we are already packed to the gills. We take my crossover SUV, a Nissan Rogue, on trips because it gets better gas mileage than Andy's 1999 4Runner. We'd probably trade his in. We also currently do not have any car payments. Can I get a debt-free Hallelujah! So right now we're discussing options for a vehicle upgrade.

Sure an SUV sounds nice, but the best gas guzzlers seem incredibly overpriced, and I still feel like we'll run out of room if our kids choose to have friends or play a sport like hockey (compute: size of kid multiplied by three to get the weight and surface area of stuff you will need to transport). A minivan sounds practical. It sounds economical. It sounds spacious. These are good for a stingy woman who worries about things way too much and likes to know we're covered for decades to come.

But in the end it's not just to minivan or not to minivan. It's balancing the "what I want to be when I grow up" version in my head with reality. A huge swath of our population does not choose to drive a minivan because they want to be boring. They do it because it makes sense. Same with the cookie-cutter houses, the planned out trips, etc. etc. etc. I recently voiced these issues with my mom and with a sarcastic tone she said, "I was never going to live outside the city or drive a station wagon." The tone came because I knew she had done both. And the truth is, it made sense and she does not regret it. (Or at least not enough to tell her daughter that she does).

In the end, I realize these are first-world problems. And life is all about compromise. I still don't know what we're going to buy for our next vehicle. But I just keep hoping wedges are still in style when Jack starts taking part in extracurricular activities. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sure you have a sick kid. Must be nice. I used to say with an eye roll. I am eating crow for every meal today.

"Sure you have a sick kid. Must be nice." I used to say with an eye roll. I am eating crow for every meal today.

I was wrong. Really wrong. I was naive. Really naive. Or better said, I was simply a selfish single person in a way only a selfish single person can be. (Not judging, I used to be there too, and it had a wonderful side to it.)

I don't want to be one of those moms who is like, wow you just don't get it, life is totally different when you have kids. But it's true, life is totally different. I have not spent a single night away from my child since he was born. He's 10.5 months old. I have either pumped milk or breastfed him every single one of those days. Most days I've done both. I'm not a martyr. I chose this life. I loooove this life. But I also have a parasite of sorts. He lives off me. In order to keep him alive, I have to be somewhat less selfish than I was. These are facts.

Also a fact - I can be judgey. Not proud of it, just honest about it. I can't tell you how many times I used to sit at work and roll my eyes when we'd get a "sick kid" phone call or an email that so-and-so wouldn't be coming in because of a sick kid. Heck, I remember when a few of us joked about adopting and sharing a child just so we could get the sick-kid privileges.

This morning every single one of those eye rolls came fluttering back in my mind.

Typically I get our son dressed in the morning but my husband did on this Sunday. We were at the mall when I noticed a couple dots on the baby's neck. I said, what's that!? My husband: oh yeah, I noticed he had some of that on his body. Not sure what it is. Me: And you didn't think you should mention it? #men

We got home, and when I changed his diaper I noticed more polka dots. He seemed fine otherwise so we decided to wait until Monday and reassess.

I got up with him early and fed him and noticed they were covering a larger area. I called the doctor's office, and they said to bring him in.

Mind you, my husband recently started a new job and has been going to the office most mornings. Today he had an afternoon meeting scheduled, and I had an early start to work planned. So we were going to try a new daycare provider today. But the baby had spots.

I let work know that I wouldn't be able to come into my early meeting and arranged a backup plan for that. I had my son ready to go to the doctor. Oh no. My husband has the car seat. Called husband. Got car seat. Called doctor about being late. Went to appointment.

Doc took a look and said he's all good, just to keep an eye on x,y,z. He likely just has something viral, but it's nothing serious. He can even go to daycare.

At this point, it's easier not to re-rearrange daycare so I'll stay here a little longer, husband will come home from his meeting, then I'll go into work a little late because I had a potentially sick kid who apparently is just an oddly colored kid not sick.

I just wrote out the minutia of my morning, but I forgot something. My fears. My heart. I'm in tears writing this because yes there was a period of time this morning when I was convinced my child had measles and would need to be quarantined for a month. There was a period of time when I read about Roseola and determined I must have missed his fever a couple days ago, and if I missed it, does that make me the worst mom ever? And I spent a good six minutes staring at him hoping he could telepathically tell me everything he was feeling since he can't yet speak. Being a mom makes you feel helpless and yet you've never wanted to help more.

I feel like I've had a week in this day, and I haven't even been to work yet.

I expect there might be an eye roll from my childless co-workers today, and that's okay. It's good to enjoy any stage of life you're in. And if they want to think life is so much easier when you have kids because you get to take a sick day in their honor, well, we'll just let them think that. And then one day, maybe we can all have a crow buffet together.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Let's have a blog off: Andy versus Jenny JENNY'S VERSION

We're officially old. So old that at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night after already watching several episodes of an HBO series we said, "what should we do?" "I'm not tired." "I'm bored." "Let's go to a bar. Oh wait, we can't, we have a baby sleeping." Hmm. Me: "I should write a blog." Andy: "Let's have a blogging competition."

A what?

We'll set the clock at 15 minutes and each write a blog and then see who wrote the better one.

Now I am (periods for effect). I immediately began sizing up my opponent. Sure he's witty, sure he's smart, but I'm a professional writer. His spelling is atrocious. I can do this. Now what to write about? Should we pick a topic?, we asked. Should we write about the blog-off? When I asked that he made some snarky comment like, "well if you want to go that route." Dude is trying to get in my head.

I also can't help but think he's trying to push me to get writing this blog. He's good like that. Supportive. Wonderful. He knows I'm competitive.

I keep watching him type and then look at the clock. He's a web guy so he's a very fast typer. He also actually types in an ergonomically correct way which is odd to me. My wrists are typically on the keyboard.

Yet as I watch him I think he's cute, he's sweet, he makes me smile. I don't feel my typical surge of needing to win. I don't think it's because I've lost my cut throat attitude, I think it's just because my competitor is my teammate. My ultimate teammate.

So whether we're snuggling the baby, petting the dog. laughing, partying, fighting, eating, watching TV, playing video games, hugging, kissing or competing, it doesn't matter, as long as I'm growing old with Andy, I've won.
Above the line is my original blog post completed in fifteen minutes. Andy's post is here -- they are quite similar which we both thought was really cute.

We had a great time doing this and we hope one day to get feedback from people once this blog actually gets published and promoted! Please share your thoughts and consider challenging your significant other at something and sharing your results with me!!!

Jenny vs. Andy: Who's the Better Blogger: ANDY'S VERSION

Blog post guest authored by Andy Steingas

Jenny is a professional writer who constantly has writing deadlines, so she better beat me in this competition! I'm only embarking on this 15 minute challenge to see who can write the best blog with her because I want her to achieve her personal goal of writing more blog articles this weekend. So while I may not be the better blogger, I at least have a good argument about why I might be the better person!

I'm a believer that a good article should have some sort of arc. (I hate to admit it, but I heard that from RHWONY star Bethenny about two months ago and I couldn't agree more). Deciding what my arc would be took ten minutes before the competition officially started while Jenny took off her make-up and I setup the computers.

We're both competitive and tonight is the perfect night for this competition. For no reason at all, neither of us had a cocktail during the Husker game, the game was over, Jack was in bed early, and three episodes of VEEP was enough for the night. Neither of us are tired despite the fact that it's midnight. We were both thinking, I guess we'll just go to bed, but that's also a little depressing since it is Saturday night.  (In the back of both of our minds, we could probably find one other activity.) (Note from Jenny the editor: this comment has been changed slightly because boys will be boys and this is my blog) :-)

So here's my arc: If you are in any kind of long term relationship, challenge your significant other even if you are likely to lose. In the end, you'll end up winning either way!
Above the line is the original blog post written in 15 minutes by my husband Andy. My 15 minute post is here -- they are quite similar which we both thought was really cute.

We had a great time doing this and we hope one day to get feedback from people once this blog actually gets published and promoted! Please share your thoughts and consider challenging your significant other at something and sharing your results with me!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I want people to do better. Be better.

I vividly remember being in music class in fourth grade. One of the known class clowns was goofing around. Our teacher said nothing to him, but then called me out for something very small. When I said, well what about him? He's been misbehaving all day. The teacher said, "I expect more from you."

What? That's not okay. I went home and retold this story to my dad - fully expecting it would end with some discussion about how my parents would be meeting with the teacher to make sure she knew how unacceptable her actions were. Boy, was I wrong. When my dad nodded in agreement with the teacher, I said, "but that's not fair!" His response, "Jenny, life isn't fair." He then went on to explain how it's a good thing that people expect more from me. I chewed on that for a bit. I think I'm still chewing on it. But he was right.

We aren't all exactly even. To set everyone's bar at the same level would leave some people feeling inadequate and others complacent.

I now work in a newsroom where I have more experience than a lot of my co-workers (certainly not all). This is a drastic change from my last job where I was the baby of the group. I learned from them. Now people sometimes want me to be their teacher. Wow. That'll test a person. Being a leader is hard. Being a leader takes a lot of responsibility. And I don't take either of those truths lightly.

Sometimes I worry if I'm being too harsh with people. I definitely worry that one day I may be too demanding when it comes to my son.

But then I remember this: I'm thankful every single day that people have expected more from me.

How much is too much SM?

Social Media! What did you think I was talking about? Sickos. Sorry, I just needed a cheap way to get you to read. I promise not to use that trick too often.

I just added a Snapchat account today. This is on top of three Facebook pages (more on that fiasco in a moment), Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. And yet I still feel like I'm behind in this fast-moving world. 

Part of it is my job. No one knows exactly what television news looks like in the future, so we news folk are trying to stay relevant so we don't go the way of Sega. (Big Sonic fan back in the day). 

Part of it is just staying connected and trying to stay relevant as a human. Obvious statement ahead: technology is constantly changing. And I want to be on the same digital page as my son as he grows up. (Scatter-brained interjection: have you seen this Amy Schumer clip? #hilarious #loveher)


But here's the conundrum: is my baby seeing me or seeing my phone in front of my face. Mainstream media recently picked up this study. It claims 54% of kids think their parents check their devices too often. 32% of kids felt unimportant when their parents got distracted by devices. Don't know about you, but now I feel like a bad person. Here's an article on this study.

I'm not sure what the answer is. But I do know I'm often asking myself, are you in this moment or are you thinking about how it might play on social media? When I'm not sure, I put the phone down. 

As for all the Facebook pages, I'm not really sure what happened. I had my personal page, and then I got worried about my online profile because well I was in my 20s, and I had fun. Then I started a work page. Now that there is no chance any "dancing on the table" shots will appear on any page (I've become far too boring for that), I should probably merge them. Oh, and I hit my friend limit on my work page and was confused by the follower thing so I also started a Fan Page. I'm way too unimportant for such a large footprint. If anyone has a solution to my conundrum, I'm all ears. 

Until then, I'll keep meandering through my social media confusion. And make sure Jack says mama before he says hashtag.

(I can't miss this opportunity to promote. Follow me on Twitter: @griswoldkmtv, Periscope: @griswoldkmtv, Instagram: @griswoldtv, Snapchat: griswoldnews,

"I think I should start a blog"

"Hey Andy, I think I should start a blog."

We were planning our wedding. Side note: I've had very dear friends who had binders full of wedding ideas before the rings were even on their fingers. And I think they're amazing people. This is my Midwesterner way of passively prefacing what I'm about to say to show I do not judge others not like me. With that out of the way -- I HATED wedding planning. Seriously. When people bring up wedding planning, I watch my husband take a deep, audible breath as every forehead wrinkle begins to protrude before he calmly says, "that was a rough time for us."

I can't remember which wrinkle-inducing moment it was. But we were "discussing" something about the wedding when I told Andy, I'm not alone, and I think most people feel like this is more stressful than fun, Andy said, if that's the case, then maybe you should start a blog. So I did. I titled it and everything. Then I decided I should probably search for bridesmaids dresses. By the way, the wedding went on without a hitch! It was beautiful. It was fun. And I got to spend the day celebrating with my favorite person. Much ado about nothing.

Now, fast forward three years ago. A couple weeks ago, I said, "Hey Andy, I think I should start a blog." Once again, I was stressed. Not in the same way as I was when I was wedding planning. I just needed an outlet. I love to write. I find it cathartic. I used to write more and in a different way in my last job and part of me misses that.

And maaaybe, I had just been looking at Instagram for a couple hours, fully convinced that I could make money doing this like all the fashion bloggers I see. (I'm not capable of being a fashion blogger). But c'mon, doesn't that sound awesome? You take pictures of yourself in beautiful clothes, then people send you more beautiful clothes, and then the checks come in. This is how it works in my brain, no need to burst this bubble for me.

So this is why I decided to start a blog. Will I be able to keep it up? I have no idea. Do I think it will be good for me to just write, I do. So I guess I should probably make it happen. I plan to talk about wife things, working-mom things, and just being-a-woman things.

By the way, am I alone with the wedding-planning hatred? (Midwestern me needs to once again note, my wedding and marriage are awesome!)