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--

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!

 

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!

August 8, 2014
(L-R) Me, Dr. BBQ, & JD Roberto. Photo Courtesy of The Better Show

(L-R) Me, Dr. BBQ, & JD Roberto. Photo Courtesy of The Better Show

 

At our house, summer + hunger = grill time. It means hosing down our patio furniture, and dusting off my recipes for Bourbon-glazed salmon and flank steak with Chimichurri. It means making a colossal batch of homemade barbecue sauce, then slathering it on racks of ribs that fall right off of the bone… As proper ribs should! It’s my cue to soak the cedar planks, pick the first heirloom tomatoes of the season, take advantage of my prolific basil plants, and locate the kabob skewers that have wedged themselves into the darkest recesses of our kitchen junk drawer. Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like having friends over to feast on summertime savories! And since I’m a foodie through and through (which is only exacerbated by the fact that I’m six months pregnant) I was thrilled to be introduced to Dr. BBQ himself, Ray Lampe, when I co-hosted The Better Show in June of this year. He was kind enough to give me a few tips on grilling (it’s okay if pork is pink in the middle, as long as the temperature is at least 145 degrees and rests for 3 minutes!) and he even sweet-talked me with some charming praise for my former Blossom days. I know the way to someone’s heart is through his or her stomach, but accompanying it with some flattery certainly doesn’t hurt!

 

Aside from his generous compliments, Dr. BBQ agreed to help me out with this week’s recipe blog, and I’m eternally grateful for it. As with most busy moms, I am in constant search of new recipes that are family-friendly. Well, this one more than fits the bill… Upon merely hearing the name of the recipe, my husband began buzzing with more excitement than a drag queen at a sequin factory. And that’s some SERIOUS excitement, let me tell you. Even cooler, Chef has provided a copy of his book, “Pork Chop,” to give away to one lucky winner! All you have to do is send an email to Jenna@cradlechronicles.com, telling me what you’re looking forward to grilling this summer. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate explanation if you’re pressed for time. That said, if you’re feeling exceptionally sassy, and wish to include a recipe for me to try at home, I wouldn’t turn it down! Most importantly, please be sure to write “Dr.BBQ Giveaway” in the subject line, so I know to enter you into the contest. I will be picking one lucky winner at the end of this month, and mailing the book out along with a personalized thank you note from me! The giveaway deadline is August 22nd, so make sure you send that email soon!

 

Here is Dr. BBQ’s fabulous recipe, in his own words…

 

Tater Tot Pork Chop Casserole (Photo Credit: Jody Hornton)

Tater Tot Pork Chop Casserole (Photo Credit: Jody Hornton)

 

Tater Tot Pork Chop Casserole

Serves 6

My brother-in-law Dino knows how to make only one dish for dinner. If Dino is cooking dinner, the family is having Tater Tot Casserole. But his version doesn’t have pork chops in it and this one does, so this recipe is for him. Dino is going to love it, and once he tries this he won’t make that ground meat version ever again (I hope). Dino serves this all by itself, but I like to serve it with a side of steamed carrots. ~Dr. BBQ

 

6 boneless pork chops, about 1⁄2 in/12 mm thick

Salt

Black pepper

Paprika

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp butter

1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped

8 oz/225 g sliced baby portobella mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups/480 ml milk

One 32-oz/910-g bag frozen Tater Tots

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Coat a 9-by-13-in/23-by-33-cm baking pan with vegetable spray. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of the butter. Stir until melted and blended. Add the chops to the skillet three at a time and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the chops to the baking pan and arrange them in a single layer. Repeat for the second batch of chops, adding 1 tbsp butter.

When the last chops are out of the skillet, add the remaining 1 tbsp butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and mix well. Add the soy sauce, season with 1⁄2 tsp salt and 1⁄4 tsp pepper, and mix well.

Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft. Add the flour and mix well. The mixture will tighten up, but that’s normal. Continue stirring and cooking for 1 minute. Add the milk and mix well. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and everything is incorporated.

With a slotted spoon, spread the mushrooms over the chops evenly. Pour the sauce over all of the chops. Top with the Tater Tots, lining them up in a nice pattern. Bake for about 1 hour, until the mushroom mixture is bubbling and the tops of the Tater Tots are golden brown. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading this week’s blog, and don’t forget to enter the book giveaway!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Happy Barbecuing,

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 1, 2014

 

Life's A Beach!

Life’s A Beach!

 

There’s nothing quite like watching your child dip his or her toes in the sand for the first time. Sure, you might have seen your kid play in a park sandbox a time or two, but the beach is a different beast altogether! There’s just something unequivocally alluring about the smell of that sea air, the sound of the waves hitting the shoreline, the seagulls pelting you with kamikaze excrement.

Okay, so maybe it’s not all fun and games. (Not to mention, finding a bathing suit to fit my ever-growing baby belly was a chore and a half!)

Nonetheless, I will never forget the beauty of observing Gray’s inaugural introduction to the ocean. What a stunning scene to witness! Her curls sprang up in the dew of the marine layer, as her cheeks flushed from the sun and saltwater spray. I watched as she waded into the crest of the waves, and knelt down to run sand through her tiny fingers. She inspected carefully chosen shells, shoveled stray seaweed into a plastic bucket, and gazed out at the horizon. Her excitement over the marine life made her giggle with wonder and glee, and the joy was utterly contagious. Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much appreciation for the beach in my life… Despite the fact that I lived so close to the Pacific Ocean for most of my adolescence! Viewing it all through the eyes of a child gave it a new sense of marvel and majesty. I was in awe because she was in awe.

 

Sun & Sand

Sun & Sand

 

I spent my afternoon being one content mama, and documenting our beach adventure. I just couldn’t resist! Sadly, my husband was unable to join us on our trip, due to his work schedule, so I wanted to make sure I came home with as many memories as possible. I couldn’t imagine depriving him of the enjoyment, so I took videos galore! My personal favorite? One of Gray bidding farewell to the waves, the ocean, and the “flamingos.” You know, because flamingos are such a common sighting off the coast of Hampton Bay. (They were actually geese, but why spoil her wonderful imagination?)

The beach trip was a blessing, and a very unexpected one at that. Our trip came about when Jill Zarin (of the original Real Housewives of New York) invited us to spend a week in The Hamptons with she and her family. We planned our travel to coincide with the airdate of our Celebrity Wife Swap episode, so we could combine the playtime with some work. Yes, Jill and I did our share of press, created a flurry of social media in advance of our show, and attended numerous high-profile events that week. But the fact remains that it was a vacation for Gray and I. I mean, who goes to stay at a beach house and doesn’t savor the dazzling scenery?! More importantly, it was an opportunity to open my daughter’s eyes to an impressive and regal landscape, one that Nashville doesn’t offer. Unless, of course, you count the catfish ponds. Which I don’t.

 

A Poolside Selfie

A Poolside Selfie

 

Wishing you and your family a beautiful and fun-filled summer!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

July 25, 2014
Ginger vs Jenna: The Showdown

Ginger vs Jenna: The Showdown (Photo credits L-R: K.J./Mimosa Arts Photography)

 

 

Even if you watched my July 15th episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, you’re probably still in the dark about the Ginger vs. Jenna showdown. There were so many funny and fantastic moments captured on camera, the real behind-the-scenes boxing match is somewhere on the cutting room floor. Editing is everything! So who is Ginger, you ask? She’s that gal in the photo above. No, not the one sitting on the steps with a look of dismay; that’s me, though I can see where there could be some confusion. I’m referring to the cheeky rascal in the brown fur coat, who stuck her tongue out when asked to pose for a photo.

Meet Ginger Zarin. (Her mommy is Jill Zarin, of The Real Housewives of New York!) She’s sassy, she’s wily, and she isn’t a big fan of yours truly. Which makes me mildly crazy, if I’m being perfectly honest. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t expect everyone in the world to love me; I’m not quite that ignorant or vain. But I never thought I’d cross paths with a DOG I couldn’t charm! (Until Ginger, that is.) And as a mom with five canine-kids of her own, I have a constant desire to express my nurturing, loving parental side… yes, even with honorary Chihuahua-children.

Now we all know that sometimes the “real” in reality television can be a bit of a misnomer, but believe me when I tell you there was nothing fake about my contentious interactions with that furry little spitfire. Ginger is no animal actor, and her aversion toward her new “swap mom” was authentic. Who knew I’d find my arch nemesis in a pint sized, pork chop-eating, vet-visiting canine? It turns out she’s my doggie adversary. She’s my pooch rival, if you will. A.k.a. she’s hell on paws.

For the most part, as evidenced by the episode itself, my Celebrity Wife Swap experience was flawless. We all enjoyed the adventure tremendously, which is shocking when you consider how awry it could have easily gone! I say this, despite any initial acerbic comments that you may have overheard in the episode. I mean, what’s a reality show with no drama? A boring one, I suppose. The truth is that we made friends for life in the whole Zarin family… The whole Zarin family that is, except for the puppy princess herself. I’m still not sure I can put a finger (paw?) on my misstep. Perhaps Ginger wasn’t fond of my staunch “Kobe beef isn’t dog food” stance, or my skepticism over dressing her in frou-frou costumes. Maybe she was irked by my own lack of swanky, fancy-pants attire, disillusioned by the fact that I boycotted taking her to lunch in a designer, leather handbag, or ruffled by my refusal to build her a life-sized shrine in the living room. Perhaps it’s because this “hillbilly” actually likes to wash her own dogs instead of sending them to a professional groomer, or maybe she simply felt I was too unsophisticated and unrefined for the posh social scene of The Hamptons. And she might actually have a point there. (FUN FACT: Ginger has more stamps in her passport than I do! She even has more Twitter followers. No joke! Check her out: @realgingerzarin) It’s possible that Ginger is doggedly proud to be a one-woman pup, or that she’s just a difficult broad to get along with in general. Some might call her affliction a Napoleon complex of mythic proportions, but I wouldn’t say that. No, I would never say that… You know, since it might just be perceived as the pot calling the kettle black (I’m only 5 feet tall).

Regardless of the reason, my time at Camp Zarin was somewhat of a hostile takeover of the canine kind. I envisioned Cujo-like scenarios in my sleep, while the Jaws soundtrack played on repeat in my head for dramatic effect. I was living in an Alfred Hitchcock fantasy, complete with black and white images of sharp fangs in dark, cobweb-filled corners. Which, if I may toot my own horn for a moment, takes a pretty damn good imagination to accomplish in a pristine, spacious beach house!

The fact is that Ginger and I have what some of you might perceive as a love/hate relationship. Evidently, hell hath no fury like a Chihuahua scorned (Or at least a Chihuahua whose mommy left to go to Nashville to play with five other doggies instead!). Even a dog biscuit couldn’t curry favor, despite several attempts to offer the proverbial olive branch. Or, in my case, the offertory kibble.

Oh, Ginger, can’t we all just get along? Rest assured, there’s zero love lost on my end, sweet girl. I will continue to bribe you with treats and vie for your affections with squeaky toy incentives.

And one day I’ll make you like me; just you wait. Sometimes I’m an acquired taste.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Pawprints,

 

Jenna von Oy

PS. This blog was written in good fun; it is entirely intended to be an exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek narrative. I don’t think Ginger Zarin is the devil incarnate, nor do I think she’s a snobby Hamptons socialite! (Though it could be argued that her upscale tastes would give Paris Hilton a run for her money.) Nevertheless, I mostly think Ginger is a misunderstood soul, trapped in the body of a Chihuahua, who has every right to dislike whomever she pleases. Even if that someone is me. After all, I have been known to get a wee bit snarky from time to time. I know that’s hard to fathom.

****DISCLAIMER: No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post. The same may not be said for certain animal egos, however.

PPS.  To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen! Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my new website too!

 

July 18, 2014

 

Photo Credit: Mimosa Arts Photography

 

 

My June blog was a whopper, so I hope you all had time to read it! If you need a brief recap, it goes a little something like this: I’m pregnant (it’s a girl and she’s due in early November), Blossom is back on television after 15 years of being MIA (the floppy, flowered hat trend could possibly be being resurrected across the globe as we speak, God forbid.), and I was in an episode of ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap, which just aired on July 15th. (If you missed it, make a mad dash for ABC.com to view it!)

How’s that for some concise Cliff’s Notes?

Now that the show has finally been broadcast, and I’m allowed to discuss it without giving away any super classified, hush-hush secrets, I want to talk a bit more about my Celebrity Wife Swap experience; it was quite the grand adventure! I’ll begin by saying it has surprised some folks that I agreed to participate in a reality show in the first place. I’ll admit it isn’t customarily my style, and I’ve turned down offers to do so in the past, as I didn’t want to expose my family life to that sort of scrutiny. That said, this one made me rethink my outlook. (Mind you, I also blog about my personal life these days, so I figure I’m an open book at this point anyway!) But why did I choose to do Celebrity Wife Swap, you ask? As I mentioned in my last post, “Curiosity got the better of me. The challenge of being in someone else’s home, living in their (as it happens, very fancy) shoes for a week, and walking away with a dose of self-reflection and inspiration, was just too intriguing to pass up. The fact is it wound up being a once in a lifetime adventure, and a bizarre/refreshing/thought-provoking social experiment, to say the least. It was a brilliant reminder of just how much my husband and I love one another and how perfectly we fit. There’s always more to learn in this lifetime, and I don’t expect my parenting or marriage education to end any time soon. I embrace being a work in progress.”

In short, we all had a blast and we have no regrets!

 

My "Wife Swap Family"

My “Wife Swap Family”

 

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting the whole affair was easy breezy. There were some exceedingly difficult aspects to filming the show, predominantly that it was the first time I’ve ever been away from Gray. Other than her twice-a-week attendance at a local daycare, we’ve been attached at the hip for the last two years. And we like it that way! A week without my sweet little sidekick was a complicated and challenging pill for this mommy to swallow.

That subject is really what I wanted to focus on this month, as I imagine many of you have had to deal with similar circumstances. Of course that’s not to suggest you’ve had to leave your child and husband behind while you spent a week trading places with one of the Real Housewives of New York (how surreal does THAT sound?!), but you get the gist. I know a lot of you are working parents, and I have the utmost respect for you. The Wife Swap journey boosted that level of appreciation even more, as I experienced a small percentage of what you must go through on a daily basis. It’s hard to split time between work and family life, and it’s always painful to bid farewell to your child as you head off to work… No matter how passionate you might be about your career! Admittedly, it’s also tough to avoid letting a little guilt creep in every now and then; sometimes our heads and hearts just can’t quite reconcile that matter. I certainly sympathize with those of you who dream of crawling back into bed to snuggle with your baby each morning, but pour yourself a strong cup of coffee and don your office clothes instead.

My husband and I spent a considerable amount of time deciding whether or not Celebrity Wife Swap was the right thing for us to do–not because we were against the idea of the show itself, but because it meant my traveling away from Gray for a whole week. Obviously, our priority was how Gray might adapt to the time without her mommy. Ultimately, we knew she would be surrounded by love and support, since both Brad and my own mom were at the house with her the entire time. (Not to mention, who can refuse the golden opportunity to put one’s husband in close quarters with his mother-in-law for a week, in the presence of a camera crew? Not this girl, that’s for sure!) We felt secure in the fact that our daughter is as well-adjusted as one might expect of a two-year-old, and that she feels unconditionally safe and loved. Though it hurt my heart to leave everyone, I’m extremely thankful for a husband who embraced the process as wholeheartedly as I did. Otherwise it would have been impossible.

I am incredibly fortunate to have been able to spend every day of the last two years at home with my little girl, without interruption. I know that isn’t feasible for many of you out there and, as I touched upon earlier, I feel for those of you who work full-time and/or who had to go back to work immediately following the birth of your child. It’s taxing to be away from your children under any circumstances, even when you know they are in the most capable of hands! I can safely say that Gray handled the separation with far more grace than I did. Which, if you knew her, probably wouldn’t surprise you in the least.

 

With Gray, Bailey, & The Baby In My Belly! (At 21 weeks)

With Gray, Bailey, & The Baby In My Belly! (At 21 weeks)

 

Although the growing baby in my belly kept me constant company, I’ll admit I was homesick from time to time. As a preemptive strike against allowing those feelings to make me fall apart at the seams, I approached the Wife Swap filming with as much positivity as I could muster. I acknowledged any grief I felt over leaving Gray, but I also tried to see the learning experience for what it was. Not that it was always an easy task! As if it weren’t hard enough to be away from my family for a week, throwing pregnancy into the mix made for an interesting, hormonal “cocktail.” Yes, there were tears galore—you all know by now that I’m sappy, right? But there wound up being a sweet lesson in it for me too… that missing my loved ones and enjoying my alone time aren’t mutually exclusive; I’m perfectly capable of doing both at the same time. Believe it or not, I made a point to appreciate the seclusion that the trip offered. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? In the rare, quiet moments when we weren’t filming, I chose to accept the “me-time” as a blessing. I let myself live in the moment without guilt. I read a few books and savored sipping my coffee out on the patio. I enjoyed tranquil breakfasts and watched the ocean waves lap at the shore. I felt at peace during a week I feared would be too agonizing to be thankful for. And I’m so glad I did; it wound up being very cathartic. While I missed my husband, daughter, and pups terribly, I also look back on the event with a full and happy heart. That’s all I could have asked for! More importantly, Gray seems to have taken the experience in stride, and unquestionably proved that her growing independence is healthy and strong. (And that’s putting it mildly; I have a pretty tenacious girl on my hands!)

Despite finding some gratification in the journey, my reunion with Brad and Gray was emotionally charged and a huge relief. Our first post-filming family embrace is a memory I will hold onto forever; there is no doubt in my mind that we are better together than we are apart! As lovely as those silent moments of solitude were, I was eager to get back to the chaos and fun of my home life. It’s what my heart is meant for.

Before I go, a quick update on both of my girls: Gray is doing wonderfully, and keeps us in stitches all day long. Who knew our two-year-old would already possess such a sense of comedic timing? She often comes out with words and phrases that momentarily fast forward us to her teenage years… Which we are in no rush for, thank you very much. Even the eye-rolling has already begun! But it’s her expressions that make us laugh the hardest. The other day she declared herself “unique,” (I guess I can thank Sesame Street for that vocabulary word of the day?) just before arguing that she needed to wear her “fancy pink shoes” to Costco, in lieu of a more sensible pair of sneakers. There are also quips that can be directly attributed to my husband or I. A few nights ago she looked at our Basset Hound (who was wreaking havoc, per usual) and exclaimed, “C’mon, Dude, that’s enough!” That particular colloquialism was courtesy of her Dad. One morning, as I set out the appropriate accoutrements for her requested breakfast tea party, I asked if she wanted some fruit to go along with everything. She responded, ”That sounds like a plan, Mommy.” In that instance, it was definitely one of my typical expressions shining through. If I thought we had to watch what we said before, now we’re on DEFCON 1!

Not to be overshadowed by her big sister, the little girl in my belly is getting on well too. She is a mover and shaker, constantly flipping and readjusting. I’m not sure if she’s practicing for her future stint on Dancing With The Stars 2039, or if she’s already searching for a way out. I hope it’s not the latter, as I don’t have the heart to tell her the exit is under lock and key for a little while longer. We sing to the baby daily, and Gray has taken to sticking her tummy out and announcing, “My little sister is in my belly, but she’s not ready to come out yet.” That statement seems to be fairly amusing to the random strangers she tells, so at least we are providing folks with some entertainment. I’m so looking forward to seeing Gray’s excitement when the new little one arrives! There’s nothing quite like sisterly love, and the new baby is in for a wealth of it.

As a reminder for all of you Blossom fans, don’t forget the old gang and I are back in syndication again! The 90’s has returned in all of its “whoa!”-ful glory, so dust off that crazy hat collection and put on your dancing shoes. Check us out for an hour each weeknight, on the Hub Network!

I also just launched a new and improved website, if you feel like taking a look… it was long overdue, and even has some brand new photos to peruse!

 

***A SPECIAL NOTE: Thank you, Jill Zarin, for being so wonderful to my family while I was away. I couldn’t have asked for a more generous and nurturing woman to fill my shoes for the week. You will ALWAYS , as you so aptly phrased it, be Gray’s Jewish fairy Godmother. We adore 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!

 

 

 

July 11, 2014

 

Are you ready for the hilarity to ensue?!

I hope by now you’ve heard mention of my upcoming July 15th appearance on Celebrity Wife Swap. Lord knows I haven’t been shy about plugging it, and I’m certainly not going to start now, so set those TIVO/VCR/DVR/Miscellaneous Recording devices RIGHT AWAY! I mean, if your brain is functioning better than my own (thank you baby brain for returning with a vengeance during this pregnancy), then I suppose you can peruse the rest of this post first… but I’m just saying. Write a Post-it note. Or tie a string around your finger. Or set an iPhone alarm. I promise it’ll be worth watching!

Since I wouldn’t want to give away any of the episode secrets or ruin any of the comedic surprises for you, I will be writing a much more lengthy and in depth blog about my Celebrity Wife Swap adventure next week. In keeping with my blog, I’ll even discuss how it affected my parenting! In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with this teaser I found on Youtube…

 

Celebrity Wife Swap Preview for July 15th!!

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, and don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

  • Desiree says:

    Best Wife Swap, EVER! Okay, I’ve only watched a few episodes in all its years but yours was my favorite. What I really loved about it is that each of you took home the most valuable lessons. You and Jill truly learned a little something that helped to enrich your lives and better your family. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life and sharing your family with us. I really kind of wish we were neighbors because I think that we would get along famously!

  • Phyllis says:

    I just watched your episode of Celebrity Wife Swap and was so glad I did. I think both you and Jill brought very different ideas to the “table” and that you both really took to heart what the other had to say. You seem to have a very happy life that works for you, as does Jill. It was nice to see both families take to the new “wife” in such a positive way. All the best!

July 4, 2014

 

Happy 4th of July!! I hope you are all having a safe and festive one! At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, that’s really all I’m mentioning of the holiday today. Instead, I’m going for a little stroll down memory lane, and I hope you’ll join me…

You may or may not have read my official “I’m Back” blog two weeks ago, so I suppose I should recap. It essentially goes a little something like this: I’m pregnant (it’s a girl and she’s due in early November), I’m going to be on Celebrity Wife Swap (tune in July 15th on ABC and get ready for the chaotic adventure), and Blossom is about to be back on television after 15 years of being MIA (time to resurrect that floppy, flowered hat!). I mean that’s enough news to make you say, “Whoa!” even if you’re not Joey Lawrence. Right?

As a side benefit, all of these long-kept secrets have given me fun and funny blog fodder for a while to come. Not that I’ve ever lacked for things to say, as you well know!

Since there’s plenty of time to divulge pregnancy anecdotes and Wife Swap details, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit more about the return of Blossom. Though Blossom aired in syndication for several years following our completion of the series back in 1995, it wound up being tucked away in the dark recesses of a vault somewhere, never to be seen again. Or so we thought. Lo’ and behold, the good folks at the Hub Network set out to change the fate of former Blossom addicts across the globe. We are joining the ranks of Hub Network’s other family-friendly programming such as Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman, Step By Step, Sister, Sister, and of course, Alf. And who doesn’t love Alf? Blossom is airing for the first time on cable, beginning July 7th at 10pm ET/7pm PT. The episodes will air in their original order, and there will even be a three-hour Blossom marathon on Friday, July 11th, from 9pm -12 am ET/ 6pm-9pm PT!

BqRIgvPCQAAYep0.jpg-large

 

 

To sweeten the pot a little, the Hub Network created a mini Blossom reunion, complete with a wall of hats, some very special reminiscing about very special episodes, and plenty of “Whoa!”s to go around. If THAT doesn’t stir your 90’s nostalgia, I don’t know what will. (Do we need to force-feed you Saved By The Bell and Debbie Gibson songs? Say it ain’t so! ) Anyway, the reunion isn’t to be missed. Because it turns out, even 20 years later, Mayim Bialik, Joey Lawrence, Michael Stoyanov and I have Chemistry with a capital “C.” It was as if no time had passed at all. I guess there’s a reason why our show lasted five seasons, huh? Beyond, of course, the rockin’ dancing we delivered in those opening credits, which was a sight to behold. If you’ve managed to forget about our sassy, mind-blowing moves, I encourage you to watch on July 7th. You won’t regret it.

 

BqRJ08nCcAE-WPk.jpg-large

 

Mayim, Joey, Michael and I spent the whole reunion day laughing… about jokes we used to play on one another, particularly silly episodes, the incredible guest stars we had, and even our past wardrobe decisions, in all of their illustrious, show-stopping glory. Good times. It was like jumping into a time capsule and being beamed back to 1993, only we have more fashion sense now. Well, mostly.

Our day was a busy one– we filmed a segment for Entertainment Tonight, did a photo shoot together (when we could stop chatting and giggling long enough to smile), and even took the obligatory cast selfie to share with all of you.

 

IMAG1067-Blossom Reunion

 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it yet again: long live the “Whoa!,” the flannel shirts, the fast-talking, and all of my acne-ridden awkward phases. Not to mention, the aforementioned dancing. Oh, that dancing! All of those wonderful memories (and embarrassing moments too) are back with a vengeance, for your TV-watching pleasure. So the Hub Network is undoubtedly the place to be on July 7th!

I suppose, in keeping with my Cradle Chronicles theme, I should tie all of this back to motherhood. It may not seem that a Blossom reunion has much to do with raising a 2 year-old, but you’d be surprised. My daughters may be a few years away from appreciating the show I was in, but it’s nice to know it isn’t lost forever. And not just because it’s Mommy’s gawky wonder years captured on tape! Being the mom of a little girl (with another on the way), I’m thrilled to see that there are still some networks out there that are concerned about offering true family programming. Even if one of those programs might involve five years worth of scary hair and costume decisions on my part. In my opinion, there are just too many shows on the air right now that encourage bad behavior. There is an abundance of “kid-friendly” shows that lack in moral integrity, and suggest that children should act like adults by the age of 10. Too many of them promote sexuality and insubordination, defy our attempts to preserve our children’s innocence, and suggest that parents are too stupid and ignorant to lead the way. I’m not living in the dark ages; I know kids are privy to things long before we were at their age, given the surge of social media and easy access to information. Regardless, I’m sick of young characters that talk back to their parents with no consequence. I rather miss the moral at the end of the story… even if it was cheesy. So, thank you Hub Network for advocating the right thing!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting Blossom was entirely pure or faultless. I recall a few episodes with bikini-clad women parading around for ratings-sake, and we definitely tackled some difficult subject matters that were groundbreaking at the time, causing quite a stir among the more old-fashioned parents. But Blossom was about a REAL teenage girl, with a REAL family dynamic– a perfectly imperfect one. And that’s what made for such good television. We weren’t 30 year-olds playing teenagers, and we weren’t pretending that life is devoid of flaws and pitfalls. I can’t wait to eventually use the show as a teaching tool with my own girls. At its core, our series stressed the importance of respect, humility, and love. What better way to do that, than through comedy! Not to mention, who can resist bestowing the era of flowered hats and “very special episodes” upon a whole new generation? I rest my case.

 

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 too!

 

  • Drew Zuhosky says:

    I agree with your points regarding present-day family TV programming. Back in the day, the line between family-friendly and adults-only television was established and distinct. You knew that TGIF, Fresh Prince, and the other family shows were for the family. Now, you have adults-only sitcoms, especially on the animated side, being watched by children. What happened?

  • Lara says:

    Came across your blog after spending the past several weeks rewatching Blossom. I graduated H.S. the same year your fictional counterparts did, and Blossom was a huge part of my teen years. The hats, the vests, the Chuck Taylors-with-skirts…you guys were my style icons. (Side note: I’m surprised by how some of the fashion has held up, even 20+ years later.)

    But I digress. Last spring I wrote a blog post about how I’m always hesitant to revisit certain TV shows, movies, and books because I was afraid they wouldn’t hold up, and that subsequent consumption would ruin them for me. Even so, I caught an episode of Blossom on the Hub and immediately had to DVR the whole thing. What struck me was that even though the content would seem tame by today’s standards (how many shows of our H.S.-era focused on whether or not a girl would lose her virginity, vs. the Gossip Girl/PLL years where everybody’s hopping into bed with everybody else?), Blossom was so progressive for its time.

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I’m happy the show has found a new home and, hopefully, a whole new audience. Really enjoying this portal to the past, and looking forward to what the future brings for you and the rest of the cast!

June 27, 2014

 

A Lil' Birthday Love

You were all exceedingly patient with me during my several months of blog intermission, and I cannot thank you enough! Hopefully you had an opportunity to read all of the crazy/fantastic/life-altering news that I divulged last week. If not, definitely go back and check it out!! Since I spilled so many secrets in my last post, I thought I’d be slightly less loquacious this time around. Instead, here’s a little nod to the celebratory fun we had on Gray’s birthday.

So… LET THERE BE CAKE!!!

 

Let There Be Cake! (Or At Least Cupcake…)

 

I think it probably goes without saying, but we celebrated Gray’s second birthday back in May, when it actually transpired. That said, I’ve been on blog hiatus for so long, I missed getting to share it with all of you. I thought you’d appreciate a few photos from her special day… after all, you only turn two once!

 

Happy Birthday!!

 

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 too!