Welcome To The Cradle Chronicles!

These are the crazy confessions of a first time mommy, and her adventures in world "mom-ination." If you are coming to this blogsite by way of People.com, chances are you’re already familiar with my writing style and “Mommy-centric” blog fodder. If not, I'll introduce myself with this brief summary: Suffice it to say, I had a baby in May. Now, I’m not suggesting this defines me entirely, but it certainly goes a long way toward explaining my daily trials and tribulations with spit-up and dirty diapers. Which brings me to… Welcome to The Cradle Chronicles! I hope you’ll continue coming back again and again for more of my motherhood anecdotes, and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

--Photos in Welcome section courtesy of Mimosa Arts Photography--

October 17, 2014

      In the biggest news since I found out I was having baby #2…

I’ve just secured a publishing deal!!!!!!!!!!!

My book, “Situation Momedy,” will be released in 2015, thanks to the awesome folks at Medallion Press! I’ve been working on this project since Gray was born, so I’m more than slightly thrilled to be moving forward with it. I can’t wait to give you all an excuse to read a full-length version of my mommy memoirs, and I hope you’ll stick with me and support my new endeavor!!

Stay tuned for additional details…

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. Please forgive the short and sweet blog post this week, but I just couldn’t see clouding this exciting announcement with any anecdotes or recipes. I promise to resume my typically long-winded narratives next week!

 

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October 10, 2014
October 10, 2010

October 10, 2010

 

It’s hard to believe four years have gone by since I married my husband (October 10th, 2010), until I think about the fact that we have a 2 ½ year-old, and another on the way. I guess when you spend the majority of those four years changing diapers and watching your belly grow to the size of a Mack truck, one tends to lose track of time.

With baby #2 due in only a month (if she waits it out…), we’ve been spending the majority of our last few weekends prepping. I’m finally buckling down and getting organized, and poor Brad has been working on a “honey do” list as lengthy as Route 66. With that in mind, we are treating ourselves to a much-needed dinner out for our special day. Traditionally, the gift for the fourth year is supposed to be flowers, but I’m lucky if I can waddle out of the house long enough to get the mail, so I think my flower-picking days may be temporarily numbered. A dinner sounded like a fair solution. I mean, what pregnant woman can turn down food?

In honor of our special day four years ago, I’ve provided a selection of wedding photos for you this week, most of which I’ve never published before.

Enjoy!

 

It's all in the details...

 

Toasting

 

Dancing

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!

 

October 3, 2014

 

My "Pop"ular Parmesan & Herb Soaked Popcorn

My “Pop”ular Parmesan & Herb Soaked Popcorn

 

I recently recalled a random (but very fond) childhood memory… I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and my brother and I wanted to go to the movies. We didn’t spend money on that sort of thing at my house, so my mom improvised. She laid a quilted blanket out on the living room floor, in front of our old television set. She made homemade popcorn in one of those old-fashioned machines with the butter reserve, and poured a celebratory cup of 7-Up for both my brother and I. That evening, we sat and feasted while watching the Disney Sunday night movie, which was probably Escape To Witch Mountain, or The Shaggy Dog, or Parent Trap. It was such a treat to have soda and popcorn—two things we definitely were not allowed to frequently indulge in. And it was treasured family time to boot!

In an effort to recapture the special memory from so long ago, I thought I would recreate the “indoor movie night” idea. These days, I find myself swapping the old live-action flicks for classic cartoons such as Lady & The Tramp, Jungle Book, or the newer, dangerously catchy, cinematic demigod, Frozen. (Which, for the record, I’ve seen in excess of 200 times already. Clearly its popularity is not lost on my two-year-old!) But cuddling up to watch a movie still stirs excitement for me, as it promotes much-needed family fun time. Now all I needed was the appropriate refreshments! In typical “I don’t do anything the easy way” fashion, I thought I’d embellish the “popcorn & soda” concept a bit.

 

It's a hit!

It’s a hit!

 

For obvious reasons, I’m not interested in giving sugary, carbonated beverages to my two-year-old, so the 7-Up was replaced with a little cup of sparkling water. (Or, as Gray refers to it, “spicy water.”) And then it was time to make the popcorn. Sadly, I have no 70’s style contraption to pop our corn kernels in. I’ll admit that took some of the nostalgic joy out of it for me, but what can a girl do? Sometimes technology has its advantages too. Despite my aversion to using our microwave, I admit there are times when it comes in handy. This was one of those times. Not to mention, just when Gray began to get impatient for her snack (read: a meltdown was on the brink), she was sufficiently distracted by the miraculous novelty that is: popcorn popping. And just in case that plain old microwave popcorn wasn’t fancy enough for our movie night extravaganza, I took it to another level with some cheesy, herbed goodness…

 

My “Pop”ular Parmesan & Herb-soaked Popcorn

(Recipe by Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients:

1  Bag plain, unsalted microwaveable popcorn

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 -3 Pinches Fleur de Sel (amount varies according to your taste)

2 Stalks fresh basil

2 Stalks fresh Italian parsley

1 Stalk fresh sage

1 Stalk fresh rosemary

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated or shredded)

Directions:  

~Chop all of your herbs and set aside on the cutting board.

~ Put that bag of popcorn kernels in your microwave, and let those suckers go! (Actually- follow the instructions… It’s usually done when there is a second or two in between popping sounds.) Put the butter in a large metal mixing bowl.

~ Heat a sautée pan on med-high. Add butter, and melt until just sizzling.

~ Take pan off heat, and add the herbs. Mix well.

~ Pour butter and herb mixture over popcorn, add salt to taste, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

~ Mix well, serve, and pray you can survive yet another viewing of Frozen!

 

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

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  • Leah Wright says:

    I’ve ditched the microwave popcorn packs and their mystery ingredients for whole kernels and a brown paper bag. Put 1/2 cup in a jumbo paper lunch bag, roll down the top a few times, and pop. It takes 2:15 in my microwave and I know exactly what went in the bag (specifically no oil).

  • Sylvia says:

    Ive enjoyed reading your blog. I will definitely try out some of the recipes. Also, I remember you the most from – The Parkers. Amazing to see you all “grown up” and a mom.

September 26, 2014

 

Glam Girls

 

I’ll admit that I’ve been a bit more casual about preparing to give birth to my second daughter. At this stage of my pregnancy with Gray, I’d registered at the hospital, completely painted and decorated the nursery, and taken assorted birthing classes with my husband. I had newborn diapers stockpiled and coming out of my ears, and I’d already purchased the perfect “bringing baby home from the hospital” outfit. Or two. Or five. I had my somewhat overzealous “to go” bag filled to the brim, and I’d stashed it in the hall closet for safekeeping. I wasn’t just making progress; I was thoroughly prepared. And by “thoroughly prepared,” I mean that I could have gone into labor during any number of catastrophic, cataclysmal conditions, and had all bases covered. I could have birthed a baby while floating down the Amazon River on a driftwood raft lit only by Tiki torches, as long as I had my well-stocked, super-sized “to go” bag along for the ride.

Now ask me what I’ve done thus far for the impending birth of my second daughter… The answer is short and simple: nothing. Unless, of course, you count the fact that I’ve located my nursing bras. Which, I suppose, would be somewhat more notable had they not been holding vigil in my underwear drawer all along.

To be clear, my lackluster efforts aren’t to suggest I’m not equally excited to meet this new little bundle of joy who will be gracing us with her presence sometime before mid-November. I’m absolutely over the moon about her arrival; there’s no casual indifference about it! It’s not that I’m too exhausted, or hell-bent on procrastinating like I’m studying for a college Physics exam, or in denial that the sleepless nights are in our very near future. It’s not even that the novelty of readying for a baby has worn off. It’s that chasing after a 2-year-old has made the time go by faster than I can say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

I’m only a little over a month away from giving birth, which sort of snuck up on me. You know, in the beautiful and treasured way that only a wriggling, hiccupping, bladder-kicking, uterus-expanding, belly-monopolizing baby can. And I know she can technically decide to make her appearance at any time, so I suppose I ought to start buckling down!

But first, there might as well be a blog about it.

 

8 months!

8 months!

 

During my first pregnancy, each month that passed felt like a year. As with a watched pot that never boils, the constant countdown of a pregnancy makes it seem interminable. I waited for every milestone like it was the second coming. Every punch and jab was a much-anticipated novelty that never wore off (which is still the case, if I’m being perfectly honest), and each day brought fun new ailments that made me crack open the What To Expect When You’re Expecting guidebook. I woke up each morning thinking, “What can I do to lay the parental groundwork today?” I was energetic, mildly jittery, and perpetually restless. In other words, I was a typical, soon-to-be, first-time mom! But how does one truly get everything in order for a second child, when they are still marveling over the first? I mean, who has time to paint and prep a nursery when there are tea parties to be had? Or silly songs to sing? Or books to read about llama drama and hungry caterpillars? Or Frozen to be watched for the thousandth time (this week)? Moreover, who has time to rearrange the drawer of newborn clothes, when you can snuggle with the 2-year-old that’s right in front of you instead? I’m suddenly finding myself in the “there’s no need to rush, so why stress?” camp. Up next: Kumbaya and S’mores by the campfire. If the nursery mobile isn’t hung or the crib blankets still need to be washed, we’ll manage. Moreover, I don’t imagine the baby will be disappointed that we were a bit slow in getting our act together. It will all fall into place eventually, right?

Or so I’ve convinced myself.

Perhaps my mellow approach to baby #2 is because I’ve relaxed into my parenting. Well, as “relaxed” as a micro-managing, type A woman can be. I’d like to think that I know a little something about what to expect now, so there isn’t quite the same heightened level of pre-baby activity. There are always new things to be learned, but the curve isn’t nearly as steep. This time around, I’m not buzzing with undue impatience and apprehension. In other words, I don’t have the kind of nervous energy that might propel me to clean out the freezer for the fifth time this month, or stock up on a pantry full of toilet paper, or bake chocolate chip cookies for everyone in a ten-mile radius. (Though the latter may disappoint a neighbor or two.)

It certainly helps that we already have everything we need in our possession. And I do mean everything! Thanks to the wonderful gifts we received from our family and friends at Gray’s baby shower, we are fully equipped with every baby-related item we could possibly want. And that’s an understatement. There’s even a closet full of clothes that would make the Olsen twins jealous.

At some point soon, I’ll need to scour the attic for the newborn onesies and give them all a good laundering. I’ll locate the bibs and burping cloths, install the infant car seat, and dust off the baby bathtub. For now, I’m getting Gray transitioned into her big girl bed, so she has time to acclimate before her sister commandeers her old crib. (So far, so good on that one!) We’ve also scheduled Gray for a “Tots on Tour” of the hospital where I’ll be delivering, because we want her to be as involved as possible. We are making sure she shares in the excitement, so the transition won’t feel quite so drastic. Thankfully, Gray has no shortage of enthusiasm over meeting her sibling. She often asks me, “Is my baby sister ready to come out yet?” and rubs my tummy like she’s waiting for the genie to be liberated from the lamp. It’s incredibly endearing! I encourage her to speak to her sister as much as possible, as I’m a firm believer that bonds can form even while baby is in the womb. It’s neat to see Gray taking ownership of her new role as “big sister,” frequently declaring vows such as, “Mommy, I’m going to share my toys with my baby sister when she gets here,” and “I’m going to let her sleep with me in my big girl bed.” Of course, she’s in for a rude awakening when there’s actually a tiny, crying human in the house, but… I couldn’t be more excited that she’s excited!

A neat side benefit is that Gray has really stepped up to the plate in the independence department lately. She’s learning to rely on herself a little more, rather than expecting me to do everything for her. She puts her toys away without being asked, and every now and then she lets me know she’s going to go to play by herself. Sometimes I find her quietly flipping through books in her reading chair, or drawing pictures at her little table. She’s discovering that playtime by oneself can be fulfilling, and I’m thrilled for her. Learning to spend time alone can be cathartic and inspiring! I keep an eye on her from a distance and, of course, eavesdrop on the hilarious conversations she conducts with her stuffed animals. She likes to wax poetic about the importance of their naptime, and why they shouldn’t jump on her bed. (Score! My words really ARE sinking in!) I also recently overheard her sweetly talking to her baby doll as if it were her sister. She was dressing her in some frilly get up, and offering her milk and Cheerios. I’m not sure how patient Gray will be while she waits for the baby to get big enough for that sort of quality playtime together, but I definitely have a proud big sis on my hands!

 

"Patiently" Waiting For Her Baby Sister

“Patiently” Waiting For Her Baby Sister

 

In some ways, welcoming a new little girl is nerve-wracking. Sure, on the surface we have everything we need, but it’s not just about the material objects. A new baby brings unfamiliar challenges and distinct experiences. Of course, that’s part of the fun of having another child, and we look forward to it immensely! However, it’s tough to look beyond the example we already have running, and laughing, and gabbing (oh, the gabbing!) in front of us. It is nearly impossible to envision a daughter other than Gray, even though we can appreciate that no two children are exactly alike. I don’t expect to be able to truly wrap my head around that concept until our little one has arrived and, while she and Gray will undoubtedly have some sisterly similarities, I suspect this little girl will bring a whole new type of sass along with her. It’s strange to picture another child nursing, or smiling up at me with sleepy eyes, or snuggling in my arms, but I look forward to embracing her uniqueness; she will be her own exquisite, enchanting, breathtaking self. I don’t wonder IF I’ll love her, but rather how I’ll love her differently. And there’s a tremendous amount of beauty in that anticipation!

Suffice it to say we may not have the house arranged or the nursery organized yet, but we possess all of the love needed to welcome home our new family member. Our hearts are overflowing and ready for her arrival and, in the whole scheme of things, everything else is secondary…

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

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September 19, 2014
Gray's "Selfie" Speaks Volumes...

Gray’s “Selfie” Speaks Volumes…

 

At first glance, this photo may seem like an accident. It might appear to be a random shot of nothing in particular, that no one in her right mind would purposely post as a “Photo of the Month.” Upon second glance, however, I wonder if you’ll notice the details that make this picture near and dear to my heart…

This is a “selfie” Gray took while we were cherishing some family cuddle time on the couch. She stole my phone (per usual), and managed to find a way to employ the camera without the use of my password (how do kids do that?!). I stumbled upon the montage of images the following morning, and almost erased them all. That is, until I analyzed them a bit more closely. Now I’m thankful my fingers weren’t so hasty with the delete button!

I love that the view is taken from a 2-year-old’s perspective. Who needs faces in the frame when you can capture a candid snapshot of feet? It manages to encompass all three of us (my husband, Gray, and I), along with one of our dogs, and it is clear how close together we are. That’s a lot of legs and paws on one loveseat! I adore that Gray is wearing the brightest colors in the room, making her the colorful, dazzling, focal point; it’s a fair depiction of her position in our lives. And I love that Brad and I, though our bodies are largely unseen, clearly bookend our baby. We are on either side of our sweet girl, offering affection, protection, and support.

Sometimes a photo says a thousand words.

Sometimes an inadvertent selfie taken by a 2-year-old says even more.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!

 

 

September 12, 2014
Funny Girl

Funny Girl

 

 

Maybe my kid is getting more comedic as the days go by, or maybe pregnancy is overzealously tickling my funny bone. (Actually, I suspect that particular sensation can be blamed on the baby who’s hanging onto my ribs, but still…) Some pretty hilarious quips have escaped my 2-year-old’s lips in the last month or so, and I thought you might get a kick out of hearing a few.

 

  1. Taking Creative License with Sandwich-making: Gray is a fairly solid eater, and she doesn’t discriminate. My husband and I have done our best to introduce her palate to a variety of foods, so her tastes tend to run the gamut. That said, a recent lunch had me wondering if her appetite had begun bordering on the severely eccentric.

 

Me: “Gray, I’m making some lunch. Would you like a turkey sandwich?”

Gray: “ Yes please, Mommy. With gray pecans & bandaids.”

(A moment transpires while I attempt to translate this response from Toddler-ese into something resembling a sensible meal request)

Me: “Sure, no problem. One turkey sandwich with Gray Poupon and mayonnaise coming right up!”

 

At least she said “please.”

 

  1. Coffee Talk: By now, I suspect you are well aware of my affinity for caffeine—more specifically, for Starbucks coffee. These days, in fairness to my pregnancy, I’ve mostly switched to unleaded brew. Nonetheless, my errands often revolve around acquiring a cup of Joe before anything else can be accomplished. Apparently, I’m already passing along my enthusiasm…

 

Gray and I recently set out on a full day of errands. I generally try to reserve this type of activity for a time when Gray is in daycare but, alas, it was a necessary evil. With a list of 6 or 7 stops in our near future, I knew we were in for a long and exhausting afternoon. Which is why my sudden diversion to a giant toy store makes it clear that logic had momentarily left the building. Without thinking it through, I turned to Gray and asked, “Would you like to check out a toy store with me?” Once the question had escaped my lips, and I’d received her enthusiastic “Oh, yes!” in response, I realized my mistake. Every parent knows not to bring a child to a toy store or playground BEFORE the rest of the errands are done, right? But I’d already made my bed. We were toy store-bound.

 

Upon entering the shop, Gray immediately discovered the “kitchen” area, complete with elaborate kid-compatible supplies, and wooden grocery items. My little foodie was in heaven, and began busying herself with pots and pans. I commenced searching for the perfect gift for a one-year old boy, which I’m mostly clueless about. Thankfully, this particular place wasn’t your generic, run-of-the-mill, dollhouse extravaganza. It offered innovative and educational items, rather than every Disney princess figurine and Sesame Street character one could possibly need or want. Consequently, the perfect gift found its way into my hands in no time flat. As the cashier was wrapping the present, and I watched my daughter playing happily and soundlessly, I started contemplating how to avoid the meltdown of mythic proportions that was bound to ensue when I said, “Ok, let’s put the toys away now. It’s time to leave.” And that’s when my child surprised the heck out of me…

 

Gray: “Mommy, are we ready to go yet? I’m hungry, and I need to go to Starbucks to get a cheese Danish.”

(Insert my jaw dropping, and scattered laughter from my fellow toy store patrons here.)

 

Only my kid.

 

  1. Muscle Memory: One of the things I love most about my husband is his propensity to respond to very kid-like questions, with very non kid-like answers. I often find him launching into history or science lessons, while Gray looks on with sheer bewilderment. Or perhaps it’s mild amusement. So it was no surprise when Gray looked at me one afternoon and said, “Mommy do you have pectoral muscles?” I immediately recognized the source of her inquiry. “Have you been discussing Anatomy with your dad again?” I asked. “Yep,” she answered. “I do, in fact, have pectoral muscles,” I told her. “No you don’t, Mommy,” she replied confidently, “Daddy has pectoral muscles. You have boobies.”

 

And there you have it. Who can argue that kind of logic?

 

  1. Pointing the Proverbial Finger: My daughter was on a Skype video chat with my mother the other day, and they were discussing all of the preparations we are making for the arrival of her new baby sister. Apparently Gray is planning to be a very influential and loving big sis. But just in case, she has already chosen a scapegoat if she needs one…

 

My Mom: “Are you going to give your baby sister hugs and kisses?”

Gray: Yep.

My Mom: “Are you going to show her what a big girl you are, and share your toys?”

Gray: “Yep.”

My Mom: “Are you going to teach her good things?”

Gray: “Nope. Blame Daddy”

 

 

  1. Party Fouls: One Saturday, as we were getting ready to leave for a friend’s birthday celebration, I discovered that my daughter is learning some valuable life lessons of the social sort…

 

Gray: “We’re going to a party, Mommy?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. We’re going to a birthday BBQ.”

Gray: “I’m not going to cry, Mommy”

Me: “Oh good, I’m glad to hear that.”

Gray: “I’m not going to pick my nose either.”

Me: “I’m even happier to hear that.”

 

Lo’ and behold, kids really DO say the darnedest things! Gray’s innate sense of comic timing is often surprising and impressive, and it certainly keeps me on my toes. If you feel like sweetening my day with an additional dose of laughter, please feel free to send along any funny stories you have as well! I love hearing from you…

 

Laughter is the best medicine

Laughter is the best medicine

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!

  • Kim Q says:

    I keep a list of the funny things that come out of my daughters’ mouths so as not to forget. One of the funniest- when I was pregnant with my second daughter, my first daughter was at her gymnastics class (she had just turned 4 years old at the time). One of the other moms had to take her daughter to the bathroom and she was holding her baby at the time. I volunteered to hold the baby. My daughter saw me holding the baby and her eyes got as big as saucers. I saw her mouth, “Is that YOURS???” through the viewing window. I just about died laughing. If only having a baby could be so easy! Ha!

  • Desiree says:

    When my daughter, Kellie, was about 5 years old, she came home from kindergarten in hysterics. I’m talking can’t breathe tears of pure devastation. When I asked her what was wrong the following conversation happened:

    Me: What is wrong?
    Kellie: I can’t jump the rope!!! (she was SO upset)
    Me: I’ve seen you jumprope many times; why can’t you do it now?

    She looked at me and in the most exasperated voice, through tears and fristration, she throws her arms in the air, drops them back at her sides and screams “Because I’m white!”

    After a little more conversation and recon work, I discovered that one of the teen supervisors at her after-school program had used the phrase “white girl can’t jump” and poor Kellie was heartbroken.

  • Tiffany says:

    OMGosh! Grey Poupon and Mayonnaise….totally got that! LOL…I have a 3 year old who constantly leaves me speechless with his #KiddieLogic and their are many times I can do little more than Nod & Smile when my Momma translator seems to be on the blitz… :)

September 5, 2014
Whatever Floats Your Boat (Left: 10-year-old me in 1987, on a ferry ride down the Connecticut River/ Right: 2-year-old Gray on her 1st ferry ride on the Long Island Sound)

Whatever Floats Your Boat (Left: 10-year-old me in 1987, on a ferry ride down the Connecticut River/ Right: 2-year-old Gray on her 1st ferry ride on the Long Island Sound)

 

 

I don’t recall the first time I climbed aboard a boat and set sail. According to my mom, my inaugural “boating excursion” was on the little doohickeys that take you through “It’s A Small World” at Disney World, Florida. Which, I suppose, may go a long way toward explaining why I’ve never really relished the idea of owning my own seafaring vessel.

On the other hand, I can easily recall the first time Gray stepped foot on a boat. Since it was last month, even my crazy pregnancy brain can’t steal the memory from me! The event transpired during our trip to the East Coast, and it was an adventure that was mildly more seaworthy than the one my own childhood had to offer. In an effort to get from Connecticut to Long Island, we opted to take the ferry across. Somehow, the thought of driving through the traffic in Queens was slightly less enthralling than being tarred and feathered (In a windstorm. In the Arctic.), so the ferry seemed like a sound choice. Our fun little trek had the side benefit of giving Gray an opportunity to experience something new and memorable.

In advance of our travel day, Gray was looking forward to the ride with bated breath. “I’m so excited!” she’d exclaimed for several hours before our trip began. But lo’ and behold, the voyage itself fell short of what any of us might call “fun.” Having had her naptime cut short (which can make for a no good, very bad day where a two-year-old is concerned), Gray was bawling the whole ride out. Even French fries couldn’t calm her inner naptime monster. You think the Loch Ness is intimidating? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, folks. It didn’t help that we were traveling on a very crowded Saturday during the summer, and couldn’t find a seat away from the bright sunshine. I’ll admit my mood was less than stellar by the end of the trip too. Pregnancy + relentless heat + hunger = one mildly unhappy mama.

Fortunately, our return trip was less…um… feisty. Contentious. Disastrous. Emotionally exacting. (And every other word my inner dictionary might be able to come up with.) At long last, our much-anticipated boat ride was as exciting and enjoyable as we’d hoped it would be…

We came, we saw, we photographed.

A Happier Return Trip!

A Happier Return Trip!

Before I go, a giant congrats to Christy of Jacksonville, Florida, who won my August Dr. BBQ book giveaway contest! Wishing you many happy and healthy meals…

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!

 

August 29, 2014

 

7 Months & Counting!

7 Months & Counting!

 

It’s always amusing to juxtapose pre-Gray life with our current status as the parents (aka “wranglers”) of a sassy little firecracker of a two-year-old. I think back fondly on the last true vacation Brad and I took prior to expanding our family: our honeymoon. The memories from those blissful two weeks are laced with romantic images of champagne toasts and impromptu outings to open air markets. There were bike rides along the river’s edge, unbelievable cooking classes, and elegant dinners overlooking scenic views. We took leisurely drives across the countryside without anyone asking, “Are we there yet?” and if anyone was cranky about being in the car for too long, it was merely our GPS chastising us for detouring to a charming little antique shop or two. Boy, do those gals get testy when you don’t follow their instructions! I think “Recalculating” is really just a polite way of saying, “Screw you and your directionally dysfunctional incompetence.”

But I digress.

 

Venice

We’ll always have Venice…

 

Although Brad and I certainly wouldn’t trade our honeymoon for anything in the world, as evidenced by the photo I’ve included above, we reflect on our voyage with that strange and empty ache of something missing. Sometimes it’s hard to remember our life without Gray in it! We adore our time together even more now that she’s sharing it with us, and the BC (Before Children) years are often a distant memory. Sure, every now and then we crave a bit of alone time over a leisurely and long lunch, but we also cherish the newer memories we are making with our daughter (soon-to-be daughters). Even if they involve a slightly less serene eating experience.

In February, Brad, Gray, and I took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, and visited the Biltmore Estate for a few days. For those who aren’t familiar with the Biltmore, it is the site of George Vanderbilt’s infamous home (read: freaking huge mansion!!) that almost has one convinced he is visiting a French chateau, in lieu of a Southern tourist destination. It measures a whopping 178,926 square feet. There are 65 fireplaces if that gives you any idea! Since the grounds boast a little village full of shops, restaurants, wine tastings, playgrounds, and plenty of other available activities for grown ups and children alike, it seemed to be a good choice for us. The goal was to take a mini-vacation within driving distance, and to indulge in a bit of relaxation. Which, admittedly, can be an oxymoron when you’re traveling with children. It was the first real vacation the three of us have taken together, unless you count visiting family for the holidays… which I don’t, since it is generally a bit more on the chaotic side. Let’s just say “calm” and “restful” aren’t always the best words to describe one of our reunions or gatherings. And that’s putting it mildly! So when my husband unexpectedly wound up with a month off between jobs, we took advantage of the opportunity. We hired a dog sitter, packed everything but the kitchen sink into my car (more on that below), and hit the highway. Can you say road trip?

 

The Arrival: Dude, What’s In My Car?

Believe it or not, the car ride to Asheville was uneventful, and Gray was a trooper. She fell asleep for the majority of the five-hour drive (two points for planning the voyage during nap time!), and even our chatty GPS couldn’t keep our little Rip Van Winkle from snoozing. Hence, tranquility reigned. That is, of course, until we descended upon the Biltmore Inn like a three-ring circus pitching tents in a small-town field.

 

Lovin' the vacation life...with her Elmo sidekick

Lovin’ the vacation life…with her Elmo sidekick

 

In pre-Gray life, Brad and I traveled subtly and under the radar. (Example: we’ve never globe-trotted in matching Mickey Mouse T-shirts and Bermuda shorts, with cameras slung around our necks.) However, I can officially tell you that subtlety has left the building. And the airport. And the hotel room.

After preemptively planning for every situation and catastrophe just shy of the zombie apocalypse, we’d stuffed our vehicle with enough gear to build our own hotel in Asheville. My car essentially became one giant diaper bag. Truthfully, the over-packing was inadvertent; we didn’t realize just how much we’d managed to cram in there until we were forced to see it all on display. But at least it added to the entertainment value! There’s nothing quite like strolling through an upscale hotel lobby with a cart full of toys and food coolers, while depositing a trail of Cheerios behind you like Hansel and Gretel (Not to worry, we cleaned up after ourselves). We brought along so much paraphernalia in fact, it looked like we were expecting a remote, third-world facility lacking in amenities such as running water and electricity. I don’t imagine the Biltmore employees would have been terribly surprised if we’d unloaded a camping stove or an outhouse. Which, I suppose, sort of occurred when we added Gray’s travel potty to the luggage rack. It was the cherry on top of our wacky little spectacle. (And it was clean, I swear!) Two giant carts later, complete with Gray’s favorite stuffed Elmo swinging from the rafters and accompanied by several bemused bellhops, we trekked up to our room whistling The Beverly Hillbillies theme song.

 

The Dining: Eat, Drink, Man, Woman… and Kid

 

The dining experience formerly known as romantic!

The dining experience formerly known as romantic! (From our honeymoon in 2010)

 

Restaurant outings used to signify intimate moments spent sharing several-course meals, wine, and adult conversation. You know, back when discussions didn’t involve spelling every other word, lest they fall upon innocent ears. Those dinners even included dessert from time to time, since no one was crying or in desperate need of naptime. Or both. Restaurant tables used to sport candles that could actually remain lit through an entire meal (safety first these days!) and platters weren’t perilously teetering on the edge of destruction, courtesy of little fingers. We could eat our food in peaceful quietude, without having our bread commandeered by someone who insists, “That’s mine now, Mommy,” then proceeds to eat the doughy portion and hand back the crust. Presently, meals together mean endlessly rescuing crayons from the restaurant floor, toting travel cups of apple juice, and immediately locating the nearest restroom with a changing table. They mean insulated snack packs of apple slices and cheese wedges, in case the chef is taking his sweet time that day, and finding that said cheese has somehow wound up plastered to the hotel room mirror by mid-afternoon. (So yeah, that happened!) But all of those crazy antics just add to the amusement of an outing, don’t they? I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Why are they taking their kid out to nice restaurants instead of hiring a babysitter and going on a date night?” And the short answer is: we are. Once a week, my husband and I have a special evening out together, and it often revolves around food. When we bring Gray along for meals outside of our own home, we do our best to choose family-friendly restaurants where kids are welcome. But the point of a family vacation is to spend time together, no? That’s part of the adventure! And since Elmo refused to babysit Gray in our hotel room (those Muppets can be so darn irresponsible!), she dined along with us. Thankfully, the Biltmore is all about family fun, so they are more than prepared for pint-sized diners… Even in their upscale eateries. We also happen to have a kid who thoroughly adores going out to eat so, to her credit, she’s exceptionally well behaved. I’d love to be able to chalk that up to our parenting skills, but I suspect it has more to do with her affinity for people watching! And when all else fails, at least going out to eat gives Gray the opportunity to enlighten the wait staff. During one Biltmore breakfast, she made sure to inform our waitress, “My Mommy has boobies.” You know, in case there was any confusion.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Which I translate to: Sometimes the fun is in how you manage to make it through a dinner with kids, rather than the dinner itself.

 

The Main Attractions: Gray in Wonderland, aka All’s Quiet On The Vacation Front

As you can imagine, we did not while away our vacation hours reading juicy novels by the pool or frolicking in the vineyards. (In fact, if I remember correctly, the only book I made it through on our trip was “Llama Llama Red Pajama.”) But to be fair, it was February, so we weren’t planning on a whole lot of sunbathing or pool-time anyway. Nonetheless, we weren’t lacking for entertaining activities to keep us busy, and our visit was more tranquil than you might imagine. Touring the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, we were in awe of the architecture and history. Well, most of us were in awe… One of us fell asleep by the time we hit the second floor, and wound up having her stroller carted up and down the narrow stairwells until the tour was over. It may have qualified as the fanciest naptime ever.

Much to Gray’s jungle gym-loving pleasure, we located the on-site playground. A great deal of running, jumping, and playing in the sandbox ensued, followed by some ice cream. And what 2-year-old could turn that down? For February, our weather was miraculously pleasant, despite the snow they’d had dumped on them not two weeks prior. God bless Mother Nature, because we totally lucked out!

The estate farm offered another diversion, as Gray inspected the livestock and played in the mud. It was quite the beautiful mess. We admired the distinguished horses, laughed at the goofy goats, and chased the squawking fowl. Gray collected stalks of hay, foraged for pebbles, and leapt into puddles with abandon. She even added to her extensive vocabulary, by learning noteworthy new phrases like “chicken poopie.” Thank you, Farmer John. It was quite the education! We were taught about the egg hatchery, and made a game out of narrowly escaping animal landmines. (Which was somewhat akin to a real-life, warped version of Frogger or Pitfall, only without the bonus points for avoiding peril.) And, as if I haven’t already written enough on the unseemly subject, Gray was particularly fascinated by the drastically diverse sizes of animal manure, which was a lesson in and of itself. For argument’s sake, we’ll call it “Waste management 101.” As you can imagine, such an extended conversation about feces with a 2-year-old was a mommy’s dream come true. Yikes. At least it gave us plenty to talk about on our drive back home! (Thankfully, the fascination has since dissipated…)

 

Bid farewell to chicken poopie

Bid farewell to chicken poopie

 

The Moral of The Story: It’s A Wonderful Life

I sincerely hope you haven’t mistaken any of the aforementioned observations for complaints. They are far from it! As with all my posts, I fancy recounting our parenting adventures with a sense of humor. I have no doubt that Gray’s childhood will feel like it passed us by in a blink, so we’re all for enjoying it while we can! Needless to say, our vacation to Asheville greatly differed from our honeymoon to Europe. Still, that isn’t to suggest it wasn’t equally satisfying. Embracing some quality family time was much needed, and exposing Gray to new experiences was incredibly heart-warming for Brad and I. There’s nothing better than watching a child explore the world around them. We tend to be of the opinion that exotic vacations spent on a beachfront Riviera are overrated. Who needs drinks with little green umbrellas perched on the rim, when we can be intoxicated by making memories with our child instead? Not to mention I’m pregnant, so I think we can all agree that Mai Tais were out of the question anyway!

If you have any hilarious vacation stories you wish to share, I’d love to hear from you…

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my new website too!

 

  • Laura says:

    So glad you are back to your writing, I love the way you write and describe your adventures with Gray and Brad and the occasional doggie story. Good luck with your second daughter, and I can’t wait to hear all about her arrival and how Gray is coping with a new baby in the home.
    Take care and be well. I wish I had Chronicles of my two daughter’s when they were growing up, guess I’ll have to do that for my newly arriving in October grandson.

  • Laura says:

    “newly arriving grandson in October”
    gramma brain, lol

August 22, 2014
A Beachside Stroll

A Beachside Stroll

 

In the world according to Gray, summer has had some stand-out features… read on to discover them in “her words!”

 

  1. The 4th of July is supremely awesome. It means celebrating with fun picnic foods, planting patriotic flags in the yard, and getting to stay up late for fireworks! Sadly, the 4th of July isn’t as thrilling for my doggie siblings. Fireworks = puppy PTSD.

 

Celebrating the 4th of July

Celebrating the 4th of July

 

  1. While the 5th of July is a happier day for the canine brood, it’s a serious let down for me. I still don’t understand why there are so many fireworks one day, and none the next! C’mon people, you think stealing candy from a baby is bad?

 

The 5th of July let down...

The 5th of July let down…

 

3. Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing summertime treat. It’s also messy. I think I doubled my mommy’s laundry load because I ate so much of it!

 

  1. Cancelled flights = more time with our loved ones. It turns out that bad summer storms can leave you stranded, and make most travelers cranky. I heard some seriously not-so-nice words being shouted across the airport! But for me, a cancelled flight meant another day with my grandparents, “Gigi” and “Opah,” in Connecticut. And that was fine by me!

 

  1. The beach offers endless amusement. Sun, sand, and water. What else can you ask for? The only yucky part about going to the beach is having to say goodbye…

 

Sun & Sand

Sun & Sand

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my new website too!

August 15, 2014

“Caught Red-Handed”

When we visited the East Coast last month, Gray and I spent a few days at my mom and dad’s house in Connecticut. Aside from the fact that I adore being back in my hometown whenever possible, it is always a treat to watch Gray enjoy her time with “Gigi” and “Opah.” The love between grandparents and their grandchildren is stunning and unparalleled! As always, I try to take a bit of a back seat when they are spending quality time together. I think it’s important for them to develop their bond and, let’s be honest, it’s damn funny to watch the chaos ensue! I like to relax, put my feet up, and enjoy the show. Oh yeah, and take as many photos as possible…

My parents have a wooden arbor covering a portion of their patio, from which they’ve suspended numerous bird feeders. They get a kick out of watching the little guys swoop down for a snack, and I get a kick out of watching my dad spring to his feet every time a squirrel dares to intrude upon the “aviary.” I haven’t seen him move that fast since I was a teenager!

Caught Red- Handed!

Caught Red- Handed

 

In this particular “photo of the month,” my mom had asked if Gray wanted to assist her in putting out seeds and popcorn for the birds. Thankfully, I was there to capture the feeding frenzy… And I’m clearly not referring to the one created by our fine feathered friends.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my new website too!