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 have kids. Two, in fact. 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. Please keep an eye out for my book, "Situation Momedy," to be released by Medallion Press in 2015 and feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

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

Archive for 'The Anecdote Apothecary'

November 28, 2014

 

My Poor Little Bruised Bailey...

My Poor Little Bruised Bailey…

 

Sometimes life hands you a few lemons, and sometimes it hands you a whole tree of them… super sour ones that require a boatload of sugar in order to make palatable lemonade. I’m contemplating buying stock in a grove somewhere. My point is that November has been a doozy here in our house. Gray is getting over a cold and an ear infection that keeps overstaying its welcome, and Marlowe has a cold and some serious tummy troubles that leave her screaming like a banshee for hours at a time. Typically just in time to encroach upon Gray’s naps and bedtime. Go figure. Our oldest Pug has been diagnosed with arthritis of the hips, Scoliosis in his back, and a fractured spinal column (the latter is thoroughly baffling, as the vet said it would require a relatively traumatic fall to accomplish that, and no such thing has ever occurred), and our other pup, Bailey, had to be rushed to the emergency vet this week when one side of her face suddenly began blowing up like a balloon animal. Turns out she’d managed to split her cheek open on something in the yard. She wound up with stitches and one of those goofy plastic collars that looks like we should be posting her on our roof as a makeshift satellite dish. Throw in my c-section recovery, and we’ve had a month full of medical melodrama that has thwarted our sleep schedules and taxed our wallets. Nonetheless, I am feeling exceedingly thankful as we head into our post-Turkey Day weekend… Thankful to have an incredible, enchanting, healthy (cold not withstanding) new baby girl, to be healing quickly after my surgery, to have a daughter who has such a sweet spirit that she’s making an easy transition into being a big sister, to have a husband who finds wonder, humor, and inspiration in our estrogen-heavy household (though he may change his mind when our girls are teenagers), to have a mom who was willing to come to town for three weeks and take care of one daughter while I gave birth to another, to be releasing my first book next year (yay!!!), and to have more love and support than I could ever dream of. When I think about all of the beauty and blessings that surround me, those lemons don’t taste quite so sour after all. I mean, how could I not be thankful for these guys??

My Beautiful Blessings

My Beautiful Blessings

 

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you have a house full of healthy and happy humans!

 

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. This will help you stay in the loop when I release my new book, “Situation Momedy,” in 2015!

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

November 21, 2014

 

 

         One of my babies is is no longer a baby, and that passage of time hit me with the force of a mighty wind once Marlowe came along. I used to stare at Gray’s tiny fingers and dream of what the future might hold for us. Now her hands are busy making expressive gestures to accompany her ever-growing dialogue, building castles out of blocks, and daintily sipping tea from porcelain cups. They caress my face when she is tired, tuck themselves into mine while crossing the street, hug me before bed each night, and wave goodbye as she happily trots off to daycare. Those hands are getting more and more independent as the days go by and it is, predictably, bittersweet. It also takes having a second pair of tiny fingers to admire to another level altogether. These new fingers prompt new dreams, while simultaneously kindling beautiful reveries of days gone by. I am, in short, feeling exceedingly sentimental.

Marlowe is, of course, a different baby with her own unique traits and characteristics. The exquisite eyes that look up at me are hers and hers alone, and the sleepy smile (that I imagine is still gas at this stage) is stunningly special and one-of-a-kind. Yet there are facial features and mannerisms that remind me of Gray so wholeheartedly, it has moved me to tears on several occasions…both for this enchanting new child before me, and for the child she so closely resembles. In a way, Marlowe has resurrected my memories of Gray’s infancy. In a sense, I feel like I’ve been given a second chance to go back and appreciate Gray’s first days, as I marvel over every coo and cuddle with Marlowe. It has reminded me of moments I’d already forgotten with my first daughter, and yet I’m experiencing them for the first time with my second daughter in that magically delicious way that only an untouched experience can offer. It’s bewitching and wonderfully overwhelming… and I’m loving every moment of it.

 

Déjà vu “all over again…”

 

In Their Happy Place (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In Their Happy Place (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In Shock & Awe (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In Shock & Awe (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In Cahoots With Mommy (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In Cahoots With Mommy (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In La La Land (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

In La La Land (L: Marlowe/R: Gray)

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. This will help you stay in the loop when I release my new book, “Situation Momedy,” in 2015!

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

November 7, 2014
7 pounds, 4 ounces of Pure Perfection!

7 Pounds, 4 Ounces of Perfection!

 

 

Please join me in welcoming our new little girl, Marlowe Monroe!  I’m making this post a super quick one, as I’m still recovering and bonding with my sweet baby. Little Marlowe was born on November 1st, at 12:35 PM, and weighed in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces. She was 18.25 inches long, and she’s pure enchantment! Gray is beyond excited to have a new baby sister… I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

 

We're All Enchanted

We’re All Enchanted

 

A Tale of Two SIsters

A Tale of Two Sisters

 

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. This will help you stay in the loop when I release my new book, “Situation Momedy,” in 2015!

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

  • Carrie says:

    Congratulations on the newest addition to your sweet little family! I cannot wait to see more pictures of Gray and Marlowe together as they grow. All the best!

  • I know this is a little late, but I just watched your update on OWN and learned about your blog. It’s exciting to visit the site today and see your wonderful news! Congratulations!

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 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!

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

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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 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.

January 17, 2014
Sneaking A Taste!

Gray & Auntie Alyssa… Sneaking a taste!

 

Our Christmas was beautifully chaotic. All of my siblings and I, as well as our loved ones (significant others and Gray), flocked to my parents’ house in Connecticut for some family fun and festive traditions. As always, there was an abundance of cookie baking, tree decorating, caroling, and gift exchanging. But this year, a new and unique tradition took hold.

Cue the figgy pudding. No, this isn’t a joke.

What is figgy pudding, exactly? I’m so glad you’ve asked. I’ve spent years singing the dangerously catchy tune, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and cursing its infectious melody. You know the one…

 

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

 

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring some out here

 

We won’t go until we get some… I imagine you can fill in the rest.

 

Despite the absurd number of times I’ve sung this song in my lifetime, it seems I’d never really thought to ask the most crucial of questions: “What the hell is figgy Pudding and why is it so special??!!” Thanks to my sister, that changed over Christmas. It then lead me to ask another crucial question: “Am I missing out on something so life-changing and delicious that I shouldn’t experience another December without it?” Believe it or not, I actually have an answer for you on both counts, and I think you might find the story somewhat interesting. Maybe.

The Illustrious Figgy Pudding

 

Part One: Why the figgy pudding recipe was attempted in the first place.

(Aka: are we crazy?)

Oh, how I wish the inquiry (and subsequent adventure) had been my idea! But alas, it was not. I give full credit to my sister, Alyssa, who has apparently been pondering the existence of said figgy pudding for quite some time now. As she so aptly phrased it, “What is this thing that’s so delightful, it’s causing people to sing and freakishly refuse to leave until they’ve had some? Also, if it’s that tasty, why can’t I seem to find anyone who’s tried it?” Evidently, once the thought of attempting the confounding confection entered her consciousness, it just wouldn’t leave again. I always love it when folks get neurotically needful of baked goods, don’t you? Anyway, given my dad’s propensity for being creative in the kitchen, my sister knew he was the right sous-chef for the job. And thus began the quixotic quest.

Operation Figgy Pudding commenced on night one of our Connecticut trip. As we gathered around the dinner table, feasting on roast pork and discussing the intricacies of the half-completed jigsaw puzzle on a nearby poker table, Alyssa happened to mention her proposed baking plans. I immediately jumped on it. After all, why on earth have I never thought to make this heavenly thing called figgy pudding?  I’m clearly losing my touch. It launched me into an immediate figgy fog… fig-uratively speaking, of course. I’m not much of a baker myself, so I was content to be the innocently bystanding figgy groupie, while my sister and father forged ahead. My dad found a recipe online and, in true von Oy fashion, he tweaked it until it only vaguely resembled the recipe it once was. He even added brandy to the ingredient list, God bless him.

 

Part Two: The pudding itself…

I’ll start by saying this: figgy Pudding is not quite as glamorous or regal as one might expect, given it is still being sung about so enthusiastically. It’s wonderfully fun and British, but not exactly the picture of magnificence I was hoping for. (Mind you, I’m not sure what I was anticipating. It’s just a dessert, for Pete’s sake.) My understanding is that figgy pudding is described as a “pudding containing figs” (as if that weren’t obvious by the name alone), and dates back to 16th century England. There seems to be some variation of thought concerning the cooking methods and ingredients. (For example: to employ alcohol or not to employ alcohol? Of course, the answer to that should always be a resounding “yes.”). Suffice it to say it’s a sort of custardy cake with figs. The rest is essentially up to the baker to mess around with, though I admit that assessment might cause an uprising amongst the British.

 

Part Three: The Taste Test

It should be known that there was a brief period of time in the figgy pudding baking process, during which the stench of boiling ingredients made us all want to vomit. And we aren’t weak of stomach, to say the least. Seriously, it smelled to high heaven. No joke, Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can is less putrid, and he’s been living in that thing since the inception of Sesame Street, in 1969. Imagine what’s in there now! But I digress. Once we were over that stinky hurdle, it was smooth sailing. By the time my dad and sister were through, the figgy pudding was resting snugly in his cute bundt pan and the icing was ready to be drizzled over his head.

We sat down to taste the figgy pudding with a mixture of anticipation and curiosity. Gray was the first to take a bite… My child, the brave little guinea pig! We all watched as she started chewing, then waited for her reaction. A giant smile crept onto her face. “Yum!” she declared gleefully, “More?”  The rest of us dove in, and the dessert was gone in no time. I found it to be a moist (Lord, I despise that word!), nutty cake, with a toffee pudding-like quality. In short, it was delicious. There’s really no need to say more than that.

 

Messy, But Good!

Messy, But Good!

 

The moral of this story:

I’m thoroughly addicted to figgy pudding now, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since we returned from Connecticut. (Thanks a lot, Alyssa!) I can’t believe I’ve spent so many years deprived of its yummy goodness, and I’m vowing to make it every Christmas from here on in. Consider it a new holiday tradition at our house! Maybe I’ll even hide something inside of it next year, like the classic Spanish cake, Rosca de Reyes (that’s the one with the little plastic baby Jesus miniatures baked in). Perhaps I can hide an itty bitty Richard Simmons figurine, and whoever gets it will have luck bestowed upon them all year long. Or at least be reminded to start working out again in the New Year. Clearly, this is all a work in progress. Anyway, the point is this: if the inspiration strikes, you should try making figgy pudding. I wish I could give you the recipe we used, but it was partly copied from a major food website, and I wouldn’t want to plagiarize. Guess you’ll just have to sing about it fanatically, until you can locate a decent recipe to follow… welcome to my world!

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • NW Mamma says:

    Thank you! Finally an american you decifered the Figgy Pudding mystery, I’ve always wondered what exactly it was. I love to bake and after reading your great review of the dessert, I will now attempt my own figgy pudding next year.
    Keep on blogging, I love your stories.
    I think I enjoy the Gray photos even more, reminds me of my daughter’s when they were young. Now at 25 and 20 I am anxiously awaiting grandchildren to come in the distant future.

  • Desiree says:

    UGH! “Moist” is the WORST word in the English language! I have a friend, that used to be my teacher, many moons ago, that has an ever-expanding list of evil words that should be abolished! After 17+ years of teaching, she has quite the list! Do you have any other words that you simply cannot bear?

January 10, 2014

Gray-snowLet it snow, let it snow, let it snow… except during our travel plans, pretty please.

 

This has always been my not-so-secret Christmas wish when I’ve traveled back East to visit my parents over the holidays. After all, what’s Christmas in Connecticut without the obligatory wintery wonderland? This year was certainly no exception, as it was Gray’s first opportunity to experience the true fun of bundling up and frolicking in the snow. Nashville gets a few flurries a year, but it rarely even sticks to the ground. Alternately, I grew up with oodles of it. Snow was a welcome visitor in my childhood, one that kept us home from school and gave us permission to spend our days making snow angels instead. I recall waking up to the wonderful world of white outside of my bedroom window, mounds of powdery goodness just waiting for me to dive in. The smile on my face could have melted all of it. (But thankfully, didn’t.) Winter meant catching snowflakes on my tongue, building snowmen, ice skating on the pond behind our house, and sipping hot chocolate by the fire. So it made me downright giddy to introduce Gray to the joys of an East Coast snowfall.

Let It Snow

The storm had blown in a few nights prior to our arrival, so the sun was already taking its toll. Consequently, sledding wasn’t quite as easy as it should have been! The sweet little vintage toboggan my mom had set aside for Gray to use was getting stuck in the dense, slushy mess. Cut to: my brother suggests an amusing sled alternative.

I thought you’d appreciate the following mini photo series, which I fondly refer to as, “We’re Going On A Sleigh (er…shovel?) Ride.”

Happy snowy trails to you!

 We're Going On A Sleigh (er...shovel?) Ride

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

Jenna von Oy

 

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Christmas In Connecticut