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--

April 18, 2014
The "Elvis Has Left The Building, But Not The Kitchen" Mousse

The “Elvis Has Left The Building, But Not The Kitchen” Mousse

         

        I’ll admit, I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about Elvis. Sure, I know he was married to dear old Priscilla, famously sang to a very nonplussed Basset Hound, and has probably been discussed in almost as many “life after death” accounts as Jesus. I know he put hip thrusting on the map, was such a hunk o’ burnin’ love that he made female fans cry and scream like banshees, rocked some seriously snazzy and bedecked pantsuits, and had Graceland built to house his family and gaudy collectibles. But I don’t know much else, unless you count that weird little fact that he supposedly dug peanut butter and banana sandwiches… Which is precisely what prompted me to create this week’s recipe, the “Elvis Has Left the Building, But Not The Kitchen” Mousse.   I’m not going to pretend to understand what drove the King’s  fascination with peanut butter and bananas. Maybe it’s a Memphis thing. Either way, the following recipe is enough to make me an official convert!

It’s a great after school snack for the kiddos, but I’ll let you decide if you feel like sharing!

 

The “Elvis Has Left The Building, But Not The Kitchen” Mousse

(Recipe by Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients:

1  Cup marshmallow cream or fluff

2 Oz. Philadelphia cream cheese

1/3  Cup Justin’s peanut butter (you can technically use any smooth peanut butter you’d like, but this stuff is IT!)

1/3 Cup Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter (aka heaven in a jar)

2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 Fresh bananas, sliced

** I like to serve it with waffle cookies as well, just for variation!

Directions:  

~ Put the marshmallow cream,  cream cheese, peanut butter, and chocolate hazelnut butter in a food processor. Blend until well incorporated.

~ Add the heavy whipping cream and blend for 1-2 minutes more, or until it has a dense mousse-like consistency.

~ Don’t be cruel. Love em’ tender by serving with banana slices and wafer cookies. Yum!

 

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

Jenna von Oy

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April 11, 2014

 

         

A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess

           

          We took a little family vacation recently (I’ll elaborate on that in a few weeks…), and there was a small, in-house farm on the grounds. While they didn’t have a petting zoo, per se, there were plenty of animals to distract and delight an almost two-year old. And her parents too, for that matter! We admired the beautiful horses, laughed at the goofy goats, and chased the squawking chickens. We even learned about the egg hatchery, and narrowly escaped stepping in animal landmines that Gray now refers to as, “chicken poopie.” (Lovely.) Since it had been raining the day before our visit, the farm area was a bit soggy and muddy, to say the least. But that didn’t stop us. After all, what’s a little water and dirt? I captured this series of photos as Gray discovered the beautiful mess that is: playing in the mud.

 

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

Jenna von Oy

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  • Leah says:

    The expression on her face in the last photo is priceless!! I can only imagine the laughs that girl provides on a daily basis.

    I thought of your Brenda Lee moment a couple of weeks ago. I was watching the news, I think, and someone ran into her in some unexpected location in Nashville. I don’t recall now where it was!

April 4, 2014

 

Cooking Tips!

Cooking Tips!

 

I am a true disciple of the kitchen. Some of my quietest and most reflective moments transpire while I’m chopping fresh herbs, sautéing garlic, or fire-roasting peppers. I feel like myself as I move through the culinary process… extracting pots and pans, sharpening my good knife, and prepping my ingredients. I am in my element; I’m in “the zone.” Food Network, here I come!

 

I realize not everyone has this sort of blissful take on cooking. For some, making dinners is an interminable struggle, a time-consuming chore they dread doing at the end of an otherwise happy day… you know, while they trip over toys, wrestle kids for bath time, and desperately wish they could chill over a good book and a glass of wine instead. But what if a few small tricks could help ease the heavy load just a little bit? Because until we can all afford to hire personal chefs, or train fancy robot sous chefs (for the record, I don’t see either of those things happening at my house any time soon), any shortcuts are a welcome relief. With any luck, maybe these five pointers will take some of the stress out of it for you…

 

1. Ice, Ice, Baby: I’m just as guilty as you are about forgetting my frozen goods until two years have passed since their expiration date, but I’m trying to be better about letting my freezer work with me.  I mean, can’t we all just get along?! I’ve decided to reform my perception of the thing formerly known as, “the place I stash half-melted cartons of ice cream and boxes of Hot Pockets I’ll never eat.” Lately I’m making more of an effort to double my recipes, freeze half of what I’ve made, and then write a notation in my calendar so I don’t forget to defrost it for a dinner the following week. (While I don’t mind two nights in a row of a yummy meal, sometimes it’s nice to have something prepped for an evening when I’m particularly short on time.) I imagine this isn’t even remotely a new concept for my fellow parents out there, so I’ll skip to the real time-saving trick… Ice cube trays are God’s gift to foresight! They are perfect for pre-portioning items such as pesto, tomato sauce, or stocks. Even milk, so you never run out! My favorites? Coffee, which I use to make instant iced lattes when I’m in desperate need of an afternoon pick-me-up, and… drumroll, please… wine. No really! I often deglaze my pan with wine when making stews or sauces. This is an easy way to store the stuff you only use for cooking, so it doesn’t get corked. (Just make sure your kids don’t rummage through your freezer and think they’ve stumbled upon some pretty little homemade popsicles…)

PS. Freeze fresh herbs with a little olive oil for a quick addition to pastas and marinades. Did you also know that you can freeze fresh ginger? It makes a huge difference in Asian inspired dishes, and it lasts an inordinately long time without spoiling!

 

 2. An Herbal Remedy: Mason jars and shot glasses double as handy dandy little herb keepers! Actually, anything that can hold water will work; I’m quite partial to the vintage sake cups I’ve collected over the years. The fact is, fresh herbs quickly wilt in the refrigerator, but dried herbs don’t add nearly the same level of flavor to a dish. Consequently, it’s nice to preserve the fresh ones as long as possible. We grow a garden full of herbs each spring, and I love going out to pick bunches of parsley, rosemary, basil, dill, you name it. That said, I hate wasting food and almost always manage to collect more than I have an immediate need for. When I can’t get through the entire selection in one meal, it’s great to know I can put the stalks in water and use them again throughout the week. It saves me from another trip to the garden or grocery store. Not to mention, they make for beautiful impromptu table adornments!

 

3. A Watched Pot Still Boils:  If you’re anything like me, you don’t have time to babysit boiling pasta… you’re too busy setting table, keeping your daughter from drawing on the wall, and shouting at your dog to stop chewing the library books. Oh wait, that’s me. Anyway, I recently discovered this really cool trick that keeps me from having to stand vigil, and I’m totally hooked. Once you’ve added your pasta to the water, place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to prevent it from boiling over. It’s that simple! I was skeptical at first too, but it seriously works. I can’t believe I’ve spent so many years blowing on my pasta water as it threatened to spill over the sides of the pot, or racing back in to stop it from overflowing like a bad science experiment, when all I needed was a wooden spoon. Who knew?

 

4. Oiler Alert: If you’re anything like me, I get very nervous about touching my daughter after dicing jalapenos, or chopping chili peppers. Actually, I get pretty nervous about touching anything, considering I’ve accidentally rubbed my own eyes afterward. Brilliant, I know. I learned the following trick from an Italian chef in Chianti years ago, and I’m eternally grateful to have it in my kitchen trick repertoire. Before dissecting a spicy pepper, coat your hands in olive oil! Be sure to get some underneath your nail beds, where the pepper oils tend to infiltrate. The olive oil will form a protective barrier, which should then allow the pepper oils to wash off a bit more easily. As a side note, milk can cut down on the burning sensation, if you forget!

 

5. Throw The Towel In: No one likes to lose a digit, and preparing dinner while distracted by tiny tots can be a dangerous ordeal. Put a damp dishtowel underneath your cutting board so it won’t slide around on your kitchen counter! A moist paper towel will work too. This will be safer for you, since you won’t have to worry about unnecessary movement as you cube and mince. Not to mention, it keeps little hands from being able to easily swipe the cutting board off of the counter after you’ve just finish chopping an entire onion. Ahem. Not that that’s happened to me.

 

** Bonus Trick: You can resurrect virtually any leftovers by putting them in a quiche! See My “Everything But The Kitchen Sink Quiche” recipe from 2013, for an example of this.

 

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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  • Ulysses says:

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally wedll written!

  • NW Mamma says:

    great advise Jenna, I just love the way you think and express your self through your writing.
    Love Quiche? Our favorite Quiche is made with a hashbrown potato crust. we use the dehydrated ones,so all you have to do is hydrate and press into the pan and add your favorite items and then the eggs, so easy and so yummy!!!

March 28, 2014

 

 

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”
― Plato

I suppose I was predestined to be a musician in some fashion or another. If asked, my parents would tell you I came out of the womb singing… Well, and talking, but that’s another story altogether. Even as a child, I heard the world through song. All of the poignant moments, and even some of the inconsequential ones, were vividly and dramatically laced with accompanying symphonies or ditties. Endless loops of made up melodies (which, God bless the 80’s, probably sounded vaguely similar to something by Duran Duran or Whitney Houston) danced in my head as I rode the bus to school and spent my recesses scaling the jungle gym. And when the movie soundtracks for Flashdance and Beaches came out? Forget about it. I was putty in their musical hands.

I sometimes feel my life has been a never-ending Broadway show. Every now and then, there has even been an impromptu tap routine to go along with it. I’m just that kind of gal. Perhaps I was meant to be raised in the Vaudeville era, or to lend my artistic talents to the theatrically satirical world of cabaret. Can’t you just envision me strutting my stuff in fishnets and a flapper costume, and entertaining the masses on the Orpheum Circuit? If you need additional assistance picturing that, check out my second album, Coffee & Men: An EP For Childish Adults. You might be left wondering if you’ve been beamed back to a 1920’s speakeasy. But I digress. The point is that music has always been in my life, and that’s putting it mildly.

 

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
― Victor Hugo

In many ways, music has spoken for me. It has been my mouthpiece and my sounding board. It has also been my therapist, my saving grace, my catharsis, and my drug.  It has served as a refuge, a wastebasket, a punching bag, and a holy grail… often all at once. So it is with a happy heart that I recognize this same passion in my daughter, Gray.

While she’s only 22 months old, Gray’s love of music is undeniable. In fact, for the most part, our days begin and end with song. Gray rocks out to her “Bath Time Jam” playlist while in the tub, is frequently found strumming my guitar or tinkering away on her mini piano, and unconsciously hums when she’s in her happy place. She even makes up random little tunes about Elmo, and diapers, and broccoli. (Though not all at the same time, thankfully…) We have kitchen dance parties to Frank Sinatra, and nary a car ride is had without her lengthy list of special requests. Oh! And God forbid I watch an episode of The Voice without her. That girl has some serious opinions about who deserves a four-chair turn! Anyway, I have no doubt there’s music running through Gray’s veins, which is why my husband and I decided to enroll her in a class called Music Together. A friend brought us along for a demo session about a year ago, and we were immediately hooked. Now I won’t lie, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of “Mommy & Me” type classes…  or maybe it’s just that I feel so darn out of place at most of them. But there’s something about Music Together that drew me in, even in all of my cynical glory. Our fabulous teacher, Miss Kym, always manages to be equally encouraging to parents and children alike, which I thoroughly appreciate. I asked her to explain the philosophy behind that, and here’s what she said: “I think if parents are having fun, then their children will have fun too! Our kids usually know how we are feeling. If you are relaxed and having fun singing and dancing, so will your child; our kids are wired to absorb and learn from the adult role models in their lives.“ For some background, Music Together is an international research-based parent/child music program, developed at Princeton’s Center for Music and Young Children. And as Miss Kym puts it, “It has been helping children and their grown ups find their inner ability to create music for 26 years. Classes are designed to get parents involved in the nurturing of their child’s musical growth, while their young brains are developing. We learn the most from the people we love the most in our lives, and that includes parents, grandparents, caregivers, and older siblings. So with all of that in mind, you will find a nice mix of children in class, ages birth to 5, who are at different stages of development. We sing, dance, and create a multivitamin of musicality!“ The way I see it, it’s the perfect opportunity for Gray and I to indulge our inner songstresses.  I know, I know… for some of you, this notion makes your stage fright heebie jeebies work overtime. Perhaps the thought of singing publicly is right up there with wanting to streak naked through Dodger stadium, or be covered from head to toe in tarantulas. But I think you’d be surprised at just how informal and relaxed these classes are. Nobody calls on you to belt out the Star Spangled Banner by yourself, or to dance the Hokey Pokey while all of the other parents point and laugh. The fact is we’re all there to encourage our own children, so nobody cares about what anyone else is doing. (Otherwise known as: If you’re being goofy and making a fool of yourself, it means I am too! All for the love of our kids, right?) Miss Kym often tells us, “No performance anxiety is necessary here. We are just going to share our love of making music with our kids in a musically rich environment. You don’t need to sound like Carrie Underwood to be a good role model.” And in a music-driven town like Nashville, that’s always nice to hear!

Letting Her Musical Spirit Fly!

Letting Her Musical Spirit Fly!

 

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

In class, my little Gray is an observer; she takes it all in and files it away for future use. She may not be the first to vocalize or boogie down in front of her peers, but rest assured she’s singing her heart out in the car on the way home. I’ve come to realize the lessons are sinking in, whether or not it’s reflected in class. Miss Kym is good about reminding us that our children are free to move around and respond to music in their own unique way, a mindset I whole-heartedly respect. I’m glad my child can feel free to participate in a manner that makes her comfortable. None of the children are being prepped for infant American Idol try-outs, or to become the next Shirley Temple. And no Honey Boo Boo mamas (or papas, for that matter) allowed! Each child gets to set their own pace, and if that means they spend the entire class walking in circles, so be it.  The truth is, the students are never completely ignoring the music, even when they aren’t interested in directly taking part. Sometimes Gray never even leaves my lap, and that’s okay too. I simply want to nurture a passion I know is in already in her heart, without putting pressure on her to “perform.” I want to give Gray the encouragement she needs to explore how music can feed her soul. Who knows, maybe she’ll wind up pursuing opera, or becoming a boy band groupie (if that’s the case, you’ll likely find her dad off crying in a corner somewhere), or playing tuba in the marching band. Regardless of the genre of music she embraces, or her method of articulating it, I’m certain she’ll continue to make music an integral part of her life. This is helping to lay the foundation.

 

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
― Albert Einstein

I acknowledge that not every child is destined to “think in music” as Einstein did, but I feel they all deserve the opportunity to try it on for size. I’ve been somewhat discouraged by the number of art and music programs that have been cut from schools across the country in recent years. I believe that a crucial part of providing our children with an education is teaching them to communicate their artistic passions as well as their academic ones. There’s merit in learning to follow cadence and rhythm, to experience the satisfaction of accomplishing something through self-expression. Yes, I agree that children need to learn how to solve algebraic equations and conduct science experiments too… But what’s life without art?  And what happens to those children who aren’t fulfilled by a history lesson, or a math problem, or a French class? Where do they go to be challenged and satisfied? I recently saw a Youtube video of a four-year-old boy riding in the car with his father. The kid was in his car seat bawling his eyes out, and my first thought was, “Ok, what prompted this kid’s tears? Is he tired? Hungry? Did he lose his favorite binkie?” The truth is, the little boy was overcome with emotion over a song his dad was listening to on the radio (“Say Something,” by A Great Big World). That sweet little soul couldn’t possibly have understood the literal meaning of the song, but the intention of it certainly resonated with him. The song prompted a feeling so inexplicable that he wept, even at four years old. Incredible, right? And that’s the beauty of music.  It deeply moves us in a way nothing else can.

Anyway, the point is—and I swear I do have one—I’m challenging you to really put some thought into your child’s music education. March is technically Music In Our Schools Month, but let’s bring it home too! There’s no wrong way to introduce music to a child; it doesn’t matter if your kids are two or ten, and it doesn’t have to be through a Music Together class (though if you’re interested, here’s the link: www.musictogether.com. It’s an international program, so you’re likely to find a class near you, regardless of where you live!). Moreover, it isn’t just about providing your youngsters with children’s music—Disney tunes are fantastic, but open their ears and minds. I strongly support playing anything and everything, so I challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone! My husband and I listen to a variety of music, from The Beatles, to Willie Nelson, to Dixieland Jazz. The idea is to give Gray a well-rounded selection, so she can decide what does and doesn’t light a fire in her belly. The rest is up to her.

A Special thanks to Miss Kym Johnson of Music City Music Together! (Photo credit: Andi Zack)

A Special thanks to Miss Kym Johnson of Music City Music Together! (Photo credit: Andi Zack)

 

Happy listening to you and yours!

 

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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  • Kelly says:

    We love our Music Together class as well here in Florida. My daughter has been going since she was 11 months old. I love the CD’s and always seem to be humming those tunes that I cannot get out of my head.

    I love too that the music choices and genres are not any that are played on the radio today or a few decades past. Not that there’s anything wrong with top 40 music but it is refreshing that most of the songs are old school kids standards and even better that I already know most of the words.

March 21, 2014
Gray & I

Gray & I

 

Dusk had descended upon our quiet house and the night was rapidly taking its place. The moon ominously hung in a starless sky, prompting an eerie sense of foreboding and casting a faint glow on the neighboring rooftops. A tempestuous wind danced leaves across the pavement, sending them skittering down the street like gangs of rowdy hooligans. It swayed broken tree limbs to its soundless and haunting melody, and left behind a frosty chill that stung like barbed wire. I sat on my couch and pulled my bathrobe up over my shoulders, as the tapping of winter branches against the windowpane sent shivers down my spine.

But that wasn’t what made my skin prickle.

The movement came from my left and without warning, and I cried out as I caught a sudden flash of bared teeth. She was headed straight for me, and I was frozen in place. I had prepared myself for this eventuality, but no amount of mental rehearsal could overcome the sheer surprise of it all.  There wasn’t enough time to fend off the attack. Her fangs sank into my flesh, piercing my pant leg and sending a fiery pain through my senses.  The initiation had begun.

 

C’mon, admit it, I had you there for a second… It sounds like I stole an excerpt from some absurdly cheesy and ghoulish novel, right?  Believe it or not, while somewhat embellished for the sake of fun and flair, that story is mostly true. And it happened to me!! Take a deep breath, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t let your imaginations run wild. We aren’t headed for the zombie apocalypse or world domination by vampire. You see, the story-prompting bite came courtesy of my 22-month old daughter (aka the Nosferatu wannabe), and the initiation was one that I imagine has caught many a parent unawares. Yes, my sweet little Gray decided to demonstrate her frustration one evening by putting her brand new (not to mention exceedingly sharp) canines to good use. On my leg.

In that very unexpected moment, her stunt had me reeling. Where did I go wrong? Should I have refrained from reading Twilight while Gray was in the womb? Should we start perusing the real estate market in Transylvania? I hear property is cheap over there.

Clearly, I jest. I realize it isn’t some epic parenting failure that lead to this scenario and, more importantly, I don’t feel Gray has done anything wrong. (Though try telling that to my leg!) I’m not suggesting I sanction biting- my husband and I do our best to teach our daughter to be loving, kind, respectful, and gentle. But social graces aren’t necessarily built in at birth; sometimes they come from hands on learning. Or, in this case, “teeth-on” learning. Aside from the substantial role teething played in Gray’s little taste test (I wasn’t kidding when I’ve mentioned her being a foodie!), I know she is trying things on for size. My daughter is testing the waters, gauging our reactions, and seeing how far the envelope can be pushed. She’s almost two, after all, and two-year-olds are notorious for pushing boundaries and parenting buttons! Gray is finding her own limitations, as well as ours. And apparently, this included spontaneously chomping down on the beefiest section of my thigh. Which for the record, and thankfully, hasn’t happened since.

I understand biting is a fairly typical phase for kids Gray’s age to go through. The same goes for hitting, pushing, screaming, throwing miscellaneous household items, kicking, and any other adventurous form of self-expression that a tiny human might experiment with. (And that might render their parents the pariahs of the preschool community, if not nipped in the bud!) I generally think these spectacular feats of derring-do are attempted out of curiosity and a desire to be better understood. And also, because I imagine teething really sucks. Pun intended. Alas, inquiring two-year-old minds are nothing if not spirited and headstrong, right? I like that Gray keeps us on our toes, and that she’s eager to explore new ways of communicating… Even if that means I might need to invest in full body padding, or tote around garlic and holy water from time to time.  (Look out, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s a new act in town!) It’s all part of our parenting journey and her learning process.

If you’re wondering how I responded to the ambush, I’ll admit I involuntarily shouted “OUCH!” It may have been slightly louder and more enthusiastic than I would have liked, given my disorientation, but it did the trick. It startled Gray into retreating. (Back away from the leg, and keep your teeth where I can see ‘em!) I actually think the fact that she hurt me caused her more pain than it did me. She immediately burst into tears. I took a deep breath, firmly but lovingly told her, “Please don’t bite, that really hurt Mommy.” Then I changed the subject to get her mind off of it.  Ah, the art of distraction.

I certainly don’t want this blog post to make you to think I take my parenting responsibilities lightly, or that I view serial biting as a trivial issue… that’s a different story altogether. I’ve had friends whose children were fixated on biting for an extended period of time, and it was no laughing matter. It was baffling, frustrating, alarming, and alienating for everyone involved. Not to mention painful! During a lunch date a few years ago, one of my friends pulled back her blouse sleeve to reveal an arm peppered with black and blue bite marks, courtesy of her son. It looked like piranhas had been feasting. So I certainly take that side of it seriously! I’m only poking fun at my own experience, because it’s mine to laugh at.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine!

Laughter Is The Best Medicine!

 

In my case, laughter isn’t terribly hard to come by, since it was such a brief encounter of the nipping kind. I don’t anticipate my daughter entering the pro-biting circuit any time soon, and I know the action wasn’t intentionally malicious. I don’t think the occurrence denotes aggressive tendencies, or abnormal development, or even that my child is channeling Dracula. It’s a reminder (albeit a somewhat physically unpleasant one) that my kid is just that— a kid. Not that I’ll forget that fact any time soon, given the number of toys I step on daily, or the stash of Cheerios currently in my purse!

Despite her fairly impressive ability to communicate, Gray doesn’t always have the vocabulary to explain her feelings with words alone. This means she sometimes resorts to other ways of getting her point across. I’ll admit words and hand gestures are preferable, but every now and then I suppose there may be a more “unique” approach that surfaces. This was one of those times. In the moment it happened, my goal was to discourage the biting, without inadvertently causing Gray to focus on the attention it triggered. And, of course, I’m keeping an eye out to make sure she isn’t attempting her “love bites” on anyone else! As long as Gray isn’t gnawing on her friends at daycare, I’m not going to worry too much about it. Finding constructive ways to let our children know their behavior is inappropriate, without putting too much emphasis on an act we hope they don’t repeat, can be a curious little balancing act, can’t it? That said, I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to joke about it with all of you. The vampire references are just WAY too amusing to pass up! It’s a comfort to be able to share experiences that might seem like a mountain when they transpire, and a molehill in retrospect. It’s nice to know some of you have gone through something similar as well. Please feel free to share your own funny experiences in the comments section below. I love hearing from all of 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!

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March 14, 2014

 

 

Hummus!

Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!

 

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart.

The more you eat, the more you… want to keep eating them.

 

What did you think I was going to say?

 

Yep, this week’s recipe is all about beans. Actually, it’s about that classic bean dip we all know and love: hummus. My daughter is a huge hummus fan and, truth be told, so am I. I find it’s the perfect afternoon snack when I’m losing steam… a little bit of protein to up my energy level and satiate my hunger, and a lot of flavor to satiate the foodie in me.

Traditionally, hummus is made with chickpeas. In fact, my understanding is that the word hummus actually means chickpeas in Arabic… That said, I was feeling a little sassy about my dip-making, so you’re getting my glorified, slightly-Italianesque-super-garlicky version. (No really, you could fend off vampires with this one!) I suppose the lack of chickpeas and Tahini means we should really be referring to it as just a plain ol’ bean dip, but doesn’t that sound so dreadfully boring? You won’t call the food police, will you?

“Hummus” It is. Or, more specifically, the “Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!”

 

Oh yeah, and did I mention it’s kid-friendly?!

Gray-Hummus

Finger Licking Good

 

Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!

(Recipe created by: Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients: 

 

16 oz. Can of Cannelini beans

1 Cup Ricotta fresca

1/4 Cup Spanish olive oil

2 Garlic cloves

6 Sprigs Italian parsley

1 Meyer lemon (juiced, plus the zest)

1 tsp Sea salt

3/4 tsp Granulated sugar

1/2 tsp Hot Paprika

 

Directions:  

~ Put all ingredients in the food processor, and blend until well mixed! It’s that easy. I like to serve it with wedges of Naan or Pita, that have been brushed with a little olive oil, and lightly grilled. ENJOY!! (Gray certainly did…)

 

Gray The Hummus Lover!

Gray The Hummus Lover!

 

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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March 7, 2014

 

 

               Sundays are a sacred day of the week in our house. Yes, there’s the obvious role our faith plays in that sanctity, but it has also become a day of family tradition for us. We have begun to bust our tails to get any necessary projects done on Saturdays, so that Sundays can be a day of relaxation and togetherness. I typically make Brad and I a huge breakfast of mimosas, bacon, and bourbon-soaked French toast (Gray can’t wait until she’s old enough to participate in that ritual). We watch old school Sesame Street episodes, catch up on shows we’ve missed during the week, play with our puppies, cuddle, and enjoy the outdoors whenever possible. But one of the neatest elements of our Sunday routine has become our weekly family Skype session. At noon, my side of the brood gets together via the Internet, and we play catch up across the miles. Since we are all spread out these days (Arizona, California, Tennessee, and Connecticut), I cherish these weekly, hour-long chats, which are always filled with comedy and chaos. More often than not, my Basset Hound is howling in the background, Gray is tearing my office apart, my sister’s dog is snoring loudly, my parent’s doorbell is ringing, and boisterous laughing can be heard from every household represented on the call. We all have our roles to play: Brad generally pops his head in to say “hello,” but leaves us to our antics. My parents customarily speak too close to the microphone, distrustful of technology and its advancements. My sister, Alyssa, is generally being goofy and affectionate with her new husband, Tony. My littlest brother, Tyler, can be found telling long-winded stories, demonstrating sign language (which he’s fluent in), and tinkering with strange, MacGyver-esque things like challenging himself to pick a lock in under thirty seconds… You know, just to see if he can. And my brother, Pete, is the voice of calm in all of it, inserting dry comments whenever appropriate. He never fails to make the wittiest joke of the day. As for me, I always show up with a cup of strong coffee, my sarcasm, Gray perched happily on my lap, and tales of our most recent adventures together. Lately I can’t seem to squeeze a shower in before our call, so I’m typically in sweatpants or PJs, hair askew like some 80’s Aquanet commercial. I often sport maple syrup on my T-shirt, dog hair on my pants, and bits of Gray’s oatmeal in my hair. I’m fairly certain my family has forgotten what I look like in makeup and real clothes, but I’m okay with that. If anyone should be able to witness me in all of my harried motherhood glory, it’s my family.  I love that we don’t have to arrive gift-wrapped or sugarcoated. We come as we are, and that’s the way it should be.

I guess I should get to the point…  I have motherhood to thank for resurrecting all of this treasured time together. After decades of only getting to see each other at holidays, using weddings as a family reunion platform, and trying to find time for monthly calls to fill each other in, Gray has become the perfect excuse to congregate more often. I couldn’t be more grateful. Since children change so quickly, developing fun new characteristics on a daily basis, no one wants to miss seeing her grow up– hence, the introduction of our Skype sessions. I wish I could say it was my idea in the first place, but alas, it was not. No matter, I love the opportunity to share each and every bit of news with my parents and siblings, and to hear about theirs in return. As a result, a close-knit family has been brought even closer, and Gray gets to spend extra time with her grandparents, aunts, and uncles… even if we can’t exactly reach out and touch someone!

I am forever indebted to you, Skype!

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • Desiree says:

    What a beautiful tradition! Skype has been a savior in my household as my husband frequently travels for work. Sometimes, technology gets the better of us; it causes us to forget to watch the orld around us. Others, it rekindles excitement and connection. It brings us back together in a way that the telephone often cannot. I love to read your stories and I love that your family is using whatever possible means to stay connected and watch her grow together.

February 28, 2014

Let’s be honest, one’s parenting style is usually a combination of methods. Those methods are based on ideas we’ve read about in magazines or books, techniques we’ve discovered while surfing the Internet, advice we’ve received from friends and family, a lifetime of observing other people’s tactics, and a whole lot of personal trial and error. We consider all of our past experiences, mix in a bit of outside influence, and then forge our own unique parenting path. Which is, I believe, exactly as it should be.

Lately, I’ve become keenly aware of the role my past plays in how I raise my daughter. It turns out I’m totally guilty of helping history to repeat itself—for better or worse! If you’re even remotely confused by what I’m talking about, I’m referring to those funny little phrases that leave your lips only seconds before you think, “Crap. Did I just channel my mother?” You know, like the moment your kids are fighting in the back seat of the car, and you find yourself saying, “Stop it right now or I’m pulling this car over!”  Inevitably, we bring some of our childhood experiences with us… we can only hope it’s the good stuff.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to add a new category to my blog: “Then & Now.” It is a way to incorporate some of the stories and pictures from my own past, many which seem to parallel my current parenting adventures. If nothing else, I figure you’ll enjoy laughing at the ridiculous photos I’ve dredged up!

 

Sit Down!

Sit Down! (Left: little me in 1979/Right: Gray in 2014)

 

For my first edition of “Then & Now,” I thought I’d tackle this little childhood gem: my propensity to climb on televisions, tables, sofas, and the like. Of course, since payback’s a you-know-what, my daughter delights in the same pastime. Ne’er a day goes by that I don’t catch myself shouting the words, “Sit down!” into the wind. In fact, I use that phrase so often that Gray has begun telling herself to sit down before the words have even escaped my lips. This scenario is typically followed by the sort of maniacal laughter only a two year-old (well, almost two) can deliver. The impish gleam in her eyes is a familiar one, and it takes me back to my youth… Oh how we rascals love to scale the furniture!

 

Wish me luck. I need it.

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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February 21, 2014
Accessory Queen

My Lil’ Accessory Queen

 

        When I was about ten years old, a little boy named Mikey** (**This name has been changed to protect the fashion “unconscious”…) lived across the street. He was your typical five-year old it seemed, except for the fact that he was mildly obsessed with a pair of canary yellow rain boots. No joke, I never saw the kid without them. It’s a 95-degree, scorcher of a summer day? Canary yellow rain boots. There’s two feet of snow, and the pond is covered with ice? Canary yellow rain boots. I recall feeling somewhat sorry for his mother who, I suspect, had visions of Cross Trainers, cowboy kicks, Nike high tops, and Buster Brown saddle shoes dancing in her head at night. A pair of Chuck Taylor’s would probably have made her downright drunk with enthusiasm! But alas, there were only the aforementioned canary yellow rain boots. I never quite understood Mikey’s fascination, but those galoshes made his world go ‘round. I even overheard his mother mention that he would launch into hysterics if she didn’t let him sleep in them; temper tantrums ensued if she fought him on wearing them to school. (Which transpired every morning, by the way, because apparently he felt sneakers were the devil incarnate.) Oh yes, and did I fail to mention he often paired those boots with his Batman cape? He was the best-dressed superhero on the block. Anyway, I recall wondering why his mother bothered battling his favorite ensemble in the first place, since everybody knows you can’t argue logic with a five year-old. Heck, you can’t argue logic with some adults, never mind a Kindergartner. Children don’t care that recess might not be as constructive… what kid preemptively thinks about the trials and tribulations of climbing a jungle gym in Wellingtons? (I can only imagine what an adventure dodgeball must have been!) Regardless, I am reminded of this quirky little neighborhood anecdote, because of my daughter’s current obsession with hats… and legwarmers… and barrettes… and sunglasses. The list goes on. Yes, this month’s blog is about something totally frivolous: accessories.

I know, I know, parenting is rife with complex and meaningful things to discuss and contemplate, such as existentialism as it relates to breastfeeding, and the metaphysics of motherhood. (Don’t go rushing to look those subjects up on Wikipedia; I’m totally making them up.) Nevertheless, sometimes it’s just nice to talk about the simple things in life… to take a break from the controversial “mommy war” woes, or our self-inflicted fears of inadequate parenting. Every now and then, it’s a relief to have a shallow escape. It’s much like choosing to watch Pretty Woman (for the ten thousandth time), instead of that documentary on the hostile takeover of machines. Of course, having a one-year old on my hands makes the idea of sitting through an entire movie of ANY kind highly impractical (if not laughable), but I think you catch my drift. This blog post may not be nearly as thought-provoking as some of the others I’ve written, but I’d like to think it has its merits.

 

And now back to the academic nobility of accessories. So to speak.

More Accessories

Hats, & Barrettes, & Bows, OH MY!

 

My little Gray is a girly-girl all the way, which sometimes surprises me, given that she isn’t overly dainty. That said, she loves her bows, bracelets, tiaras, and tutus. If she were capable of it, she’d scale Mt. Everest –or at least her armoire– to retrieve a pair of sparkly sunglasses. And you think I was a cap collector as a kid? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, my friends! My daughter puts my hat loving to shame. There isn’t a tam she’d turn down, or a beret she’d balk at. In fact… one evening, when she was in a bit of a foul mood thanks to teething miseries, she pointed to a particularly fancy fedora on my closet shelf. “Hat,” she whimpered through crocodile tears. My husband retrieved it for her and she placed it on her own head. The waterworks immediately stopped. “More hat,” she said with a small smirk, and pointed to a winter knit that hung from a hook on our wall. Again, my husband took it down and handed it to her. A moment later, once the requested brims were piled high on top of her head, we were looking at the most contented girl in the world; no tears were in sight, as she pranced around in her happy hats for the next several hours. Who needs bribery or “time-outs” when you have remedy by hat collection?

Grocery Shopping

Too Cool For Grocery Shopping

 

When I say my daughter “loves accessories,” I’m not sure you can truly appreciate the depth of that statement. I mean she won’t get out of the car without the perfect acoutrements. She requests pigtails and bows before grocery store outings. She steals bracelets from my closet, and drags out my most colorful shoes. She’d bring her scarves into the bathtub if I let her. (Alas, the line must be drawn somewhere, as rubber duckies do not require neckwear. At least as far as I know, anyway.) My point is, Gray adores accessories in a way that is different from most toddlers. I often have mothers stop and marvel at how I “get her to keep sunglasses on.” Little do they know, that requires no effort on my part whatsoever.  One woman recently commented, “Your daughter keeps her shades on? I can’t even get my kid to keep his pants on!” Here’s hoping her kid isn’t in his 20’s.

 

Gray’s fondness happens to be for accessories, but I find it fascinating what other kids do (or don’t) latch onto as well. One of my Cradle Chronicles blog readers wrote to me in September, detailing her daughter’s obsession with wearing orange. (Orange is the new black, after all, right?) Apparently her sweet tot refuses to dress in any other color! And from what I can tell, that isn’t an anomaly. On the other side of things, there are also the items children won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. I, for one, abhorred wearing jeans until I was well into my teens. I would sooner have sported a burlap sack to elementary school, than to have poured myself into a pair of acid-washed denim dungarees. What’s that, you say? You hated jeans? But jeans are a staple!! Crazy, right? (I also despised pizza at the time, so I was clearly a bit off-kilter.)

Like Mama, Like Daughta

Like Mama, Like Daughta

 

So far, Gray isn’t shunning any articles of clothing, but she certainly has her affinities. I’m often stunned by the number of opinions she asserts, in reference to her daily apparel. Who knew 21-month olds were so particular about which color socks to wear? My baby is a fashion maven in the making—the littlest Project Runway protégé on the planet. And while I am very reluctant to encourage a material obsession with clothes (pun intended), I am a huge proponent of encouraging self-expression through one’s wardrobe. Clothing has always offered me the chance to convey my unique style and spirit, and it warms my heart to see Gray embracing the same methods.

 

Speaking of which…

Rockin' The Roller Skating Attire In The 80's... Sort Of.

Rockin’ The Roller Skating Attire In The 80′s… Sort Of.

 

Looking back, I’m terrified at some of the things I wore out in public when I was younger. Can we talk about the awful effect the 80’s had on my fashion sense?! (I suspect I’m not alone in that observation.) My Mom was a brave woman to let me experience my freedom of expression in that way. In some cases, she was a brave woman to let me out of the house at all, but we’ll let that slide for now. I hope I’ll be equally courageous in my parenting, because I think motherhood is often about adjusting your way of thinking to fit your child’s personality. Please don’t misunderstand me here- I’m not saying you shouldn’t set crucial boundaries for your child; they aren’t meant to raise themselves. The way I see it, it’s about bending without breaking, and setting my daughter on a positive path without sacrificing my own parenting convictions. It’s about letting Gray take some poetic license, without exceeding the ethical limitations I’ve set. I acknowledge that those boundaries vary from parent to parent, but mine include letting my kid pick out some of her own outfit each day. (Within reason, of course!) It might surprise you to hear this, but I’m actually a relatively conservative mom. Yes, I have tattoos and I grew up in show business, but I was raised in a fairly traditional household, by parents that wholeheartedly promoted respect and courtesy. I love that it takes all kinds to make the world, and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but my husband and I tend to take an “old-fashioned” approach to our parenting. And that certainly transfers over into what Gray wears… We want our daughter to be proud of what she puts on her body. Moreover, we want her to be proud of the body that wears it. All of that said, I don’t care if she matches, or if her hair is askew (as is often the case), or if she wants to wear a pair of boy’s pants instead of a dress. Self-confidence should supersede all of those things, and if Gray feels good about her choices, I’m proud of that. Sure, there will likely come a day when I’m forced to say, “No, you can’t wear that miniskirt to school, “ or “I’m not okay with your midriff showing.” But all in due time. For now we’re just focusing on the accessories, and I’m content letting her choose her own adventure where those are concerned! I’d like to think her choices are assisting her in acquiring a sense of pride and accomplishment. No matter how insignificant it may seem in the whole scheme of things, she is still exercising her independence each time she selects her own belt or feathered hair clip.  She is learning to appreciate the decision-making process, while brushing up on her knowledge of colors and clothing-related vocabulary. Best of all, she is learning to be unique. She is learning to be her version of Gray. And that’s the only Gray there should be.

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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February 14, 2014
Unspoken Love

Unspoken Love~ Photo By Mimosa Arts Photography

 

Sometimes love can be found in the subtlest of details or the briefest of moments. My daughter recently began saying those three little words every parent treasures hearing, but I knew her intentions long before the phrase “I love you” was uttered aloud. Actions truly do speak loudest!

Gray has heard those same words fall from my lips thousands of times in her young life. I don’t reserve them for special occasions or limit them to once a day. I don’t believe they lose significance over time, or suffer from the risk of being overused, or become unnecessary to articulate once the message has gotten through. I am a firm believer in reinforcement—of professing my love openly and often. Most importantly, I mean it every single time I say it. I’d like to think we all do… that such a deep expression of our hearts isn’t thrown around with reckless abandon.

I won’t lie– it is an incredible feeling to be the recipient of that dazzling assertion, especially when it’s coming from a child. The first time my daughter returned my “I love you,” I welled up with tears and called my husband at work to share the news. But if I’m being honest, Gray’s heart communicated that special sentiment long before her lips could form the sentence. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share five of my favorite moments of unspoken love…

 

1. A few months ago, Gray began calling my name when she awakens from a nap. Since she was old enough to sit up by herself, Gray would pop up, grab her pacifier, and quietly sit in bed until I came to retrieve her. These days, she sweetly calls out for me instead, even before her sleepy eyes open. I cherish knowing my face is the first thing she wants to see.

2. As you already know, I’m an animal lover through and through. Because of this fact, I tend to get very choked up when a canine best friend is lost. A dear friend’s dog recently passed away, and I took it pretty hard. I know some of our own pups are getting up there in years as well, and it’s never fun to reflect on that. Noticing that tears had formed in my eyes, Gray came over to hug me. She pulled back, looked at me intently, wiped my tears away with her little fingers, and asked, “Cry?” “Yes,” I told her, “Mommy is crying.” “Oh Honey,” she said in the motherly tone of voice I so often use with her. I immediately began smiling. Her sensitivity and empathy never fail to melt my heart!

3. Gray is incredibly affectionate, and unafraid of showing it. One evening, I absentmindedly let my hair down from a ponytail and shook it out. As I ran my fingers through the tangles, I happened to glance over at Gray. She was watching in awe, with a goofy little grin on her face. “Oh Mommy,” she cried when we made eye contact. She then put her hands on either side of my face and went in for a giant, sloppy kiss. I guess I should let my hair down more often… literally and figuratively.

4. No one else in this world is quite so enthusiastic when I walk into a room. One afternoon, when I returned from a meeting, Gray greeted me at the top of the stairs. “Mommy’s home!” she shouted with unrestrained glee. Of course that sentence was followed by, “Boobie’s home!” But who’s counting? At least she put me before the breastaurant!

5. I cuddle with her EVERY morning, and she lets me. Sure, sometimes I have to share her with our five dogs, but there’s plenty of love to go around.  We cozy up on the couch, huddle under my bathrobe, and watch Sesame Street together. It’s our special time to quietly adore one another, and I’ll take advantage of it for as long as I can!

 

Cuddling

Cherishing Our Cuddle Time

 

I thoroughly enjoy hearing from all of you… What are some of the beautiful ways in which your children say ”I love you” without words? If you feel inspired to let me know, please do!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours.

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

Jenna von Oy

 

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Until next time…

  • Keri says:

    One day long ago when I was driving home from work after picking up my son who was about 2.5 years old, he exclaimed from the backseat that “when he grows up he will marry me and get to sit up in the front seat next to me”. I will never forget his sweet little voice!

  • Desiree says:

    My daughter is now nearly 14 but when she was younger, she made a construction paper gift with an acrostic poem from the word “MOM.” The first line was “my mom’s birthday is Nov 12th”. The second “Open” and the third line was my favorite and to this day, it makes me giggle. It said “My mom makes the moonshine.” It’s an adorable sentiment but obviously, there should have been a space. She also told me when she was little that “no matter what, you will always be my favorite person”