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--

Archive for 'The Anecdote Apothecary'

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

December 13, 2013

 

This is my last Thanksgiving-related post. I swear.

I know we are well into December now, but last week I promised you the story about our delayed Thanksgiving celebration, so here it goes…

 

Thanksgiving was a bit of a bust for us, and that’s putting it mildly. There was no turkey or chestnut stuffing; there were no pumpkin pies or Tryptophan-induced stupors. There wasn’t even the distraction of a noisy football game or the joy of putting up the Christmas tree. There was just Pneumonia. And while I scoff at a cold, and gingerly push through the flu, Pneumonia had me face down on the floor of the boxing ring (actually it was the bathroom floor…) with an invisible elfin referee on my shoulder screaming, “We’ve got a TKO, Ladies & Gentleman!” I was officially down for the count.

 

It’s never fun to be under the weather, but if I thought being sick before having kids was bad, I was in for a rude awakening as a parent. Gone are the days of sleeping it off during the afternoon, and sipping 7-Up while watching Andy Griffith reruns until one feels better again. Gone are the days of having coughing fits without scaring anyone, since mini-me has no idea why you sound like a Gremlin and your body is contorting like something out of The Exorcist (not that mini-me is old enough to know what those movies even are, but you get the point). Gone too, it seems, is the ease of effortlessly bouncing back to health. But it’s so much more than that. Aside from the obvious fear of giving your child whatever illness you’ve contracted, it’s the mundane stuff that makes getting sick so impossibly difficult as a parent. Because let’s be honest– trying to chase after a walking, talking ball of energy, when you have the balance of a drunken sailor, is an abysmally draining task. It’s hard to explain why you can’t handle playing hide and go seek, or why the thermometer isn’t something the doggies are allowed to play with. It’s difficult to offer up the words, “Don’t stand up on the couch!” with any kind of authority, when you’re weakly muttering it through feverish delirium. Likewise, chattering teeth can make the phrase, “Please don’t draw on the wall with cheese,” slightly more lackluster than you intended for it to be. And let’s not get started on the puking.  Oh, the puking. In my particular case, and worst of all, I was instructed to wear a protective facemask in front of my child for 48 hours. It nearly did me in. There’s something terribly pitiful about having your 18-month old tug your mask down so she can make sure Mommy is still under there. Thank God that was short-lived.

 

And so my Pneumonia made me tough to be around for about ten days. I was running a high fever for six of them, which rendered me horribly dazed and confused, and meant that I was virtually incapable of doing anything for myself. This included walking to the bathroom without passing out; I’ll spare you the rest of the gruesome details. I’m eternally grateful for my husband, who wound up taking four days off from work to nurse me back to health. He essentially spent every waking moment trying to juggle two needy babies. (For the record, one of us tried to spare him as much whining as humanly possible… thank you, Gray!) Now, more than ever before, I have serious respect for the single moms out there. Because I’m not gonna lie, I couldn’t have hacked it on my own. You guys are rock stars.

 

Courtesy of some heavy-duty antibiotics and much-needed rest, I was (am) finally on the mend. And with the “better late than never” cliché in mind, we decided to celebrate a very belated feast of thanks at our house about ten days after the fact. In December. Suffice it to say I was more than a little excited to get a turkey in that oven! So fear not, friends, Pneumonia hasn’t gotten the better of me, and the Thanksgiving-that-nearly-wasn’t has finally come to pass.

 

Now bring on a HEALTHIER Christmas, please!  Wishing you all a safe and healthy holiday season…

 

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

Jenna von Oy

 

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December 6, 2013

In honor of our Thanksgiving that wasn’t (check back next week for my blog post on how our holiday was overshadowed), I thought I would proffer a funny little anecdote, along with an equally funny photo of my daughter’s school project…

When I went to pick Gray up from daycare the week before Thanksgiving, I was reminded of one of the reasons I adore her school so much: they really stress creative expression. For a mom who’s kid already loves to color on walls and sing at the top of her lungs in the bathtub, that’s both heart-warming and a relief. (It also gives me hope that, sooner rather than later, she’ll be focusing her artistic attentions on canvas and paper instead of our refrigerator and front door. But I digress.) As I passed by each classroom, I stopped to appreciate all of the various Thanksgiving-inspired artwork: cornucopia’s overflowing with hand drawn fruits, and fall colors splashed across white construction paper like a pile of fiery autumn leaves.

When I got to the toddler room, which is Gray’s class, there was a perfect lineup of handprint turkeys. How wonderfully nostalgic! I was struck by the delicacy of them all, and they made me smile while simultaneously tugging at my sentimental heartstrings. The handprints were transformed into silly painted turkeys, yes, but they were still an indication of how beautifully and quickly our children are growing. Boasting bright feathers and whimsical little wattles, each one had a child’s name printed in the corner. As I scanned the flock for my own daughter’s masterpiece, my eyes passed over pristine handprint turkey after pristine little handprint turkey. And that’s when I got to Gray’s fine-feathered friend… A macabre fellow, who somehow managed to be the one guy looking as though he’d already been executed. It was the equivalent of Quentin Tarantino directing a Disney flick.

 

I’m so proud.

 

Here’s hoping you and yours had a happy Thanksgiving holiday, and that everyone fared better than this guy!

(And in case you’re curious, Mr. Morbid Turkey is totally staying up on our fridge…)

The Perfect Turkey

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

Jenna von Oy

 

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  • Morgan says:

    Jenna, this picture made me laugh out loud! I love your blog, and look forward to it each week. I have a 19 month old (also my first), and she and Gray are often involved in similar escapades. I hope you and your family enjoy the holidays; I know they will be especially magical this year!

November 15, 2013

Gray & Gigi

Grandma’s Hugs are Made of Love

Everything my grandma does
is something special made with love.
She takes time to add the extra touch
that says, “I love you very much.”

She fixes hurts with a kiss and smile
and tells good stories grandma-style.
It’s warm and cozy on her lap
for secret telling or a nap.

And when I say my prayers at night,
I ask God to bless and hold her tight.
Cause when it comes to giving hugs
my grandma’s arms are filled with love!

Author Unknown

 

Gray & Grandma 2

My mom came to visit this month, and watching her with my daughter made me downright gleeful. I laughed out loud, cried with tears of joy, and even inadvertently snorted during a few particularly hilarious moments. But most of all, I treasured observing the two of them interact… A grandmother and her granddaughter have a special bond that no one can deny. A visit from Grandma this month meant having another helping hand at music class, stitched up holes in Gray’s favorite pajamas, sharing yummy ice cream at our favorite shop, assistance in picking out pumpkins at the farmer’s market, a trick or treating chaperone, extra cuddles and hugs, reading books before bed, and homemade blueberry muffins in the morning (Which means I totally lucked out too!). In honor of their time together, I thought I’d proffer a few photos of a trip we took to the local park, where Gray and her “Gigi” strolled hand in hand, slid down the “big girl” slides, and swung to their hearts content. Which, ironically, made my heart content too! God bless Grandmas!!

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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October 11, 2013

us

 

My daughter recently had school photos taken at daycare. It was my first experience having her photographed without me around, and I can’t wait to see how they turned out. (The fact that someone else is willing to make ridiculously silly faces and noises, on the off chance it will make my child smile for a picture for our fridge, is the bee’s knees in my book!) But, in all honesty, I can’t say I’m holding my breath. I’ll admit Gray tends to be fairly photogenic, but Lord knows I never wound up with any particularly cute school photos. If history dictates anything at all, I might be leaning more toward a “glass half empty” stance on this one.  Also, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s one thing to take advantage of your kid’s happy-go-lucky mood by whipping out a camera and snapping a few candid shots; it’s a whole different story when you want her to smile on cue. I imagine Honey Boo Boo’s mama could have given me some pointers on how to better prepare my daughter for her moment in said “spotlight,” but I think I prefer my slightly less overzealous approach instead. There will be no dancing on the sidelines at the “Toddlers and Tiaras” pageant for me! In case you’re curious, my only preparatory process essentially entailed dressing Gray up in an adorable outfit and praying she would proffer a toothy grin when the time was right. Which may be why I so eagerly await the results.

 

I can tell you the day didn’t start off well. Actually, let me rephrase that; the day started off great! I awakened Gray at 8 am (my daughter is quite the sleeper), after a restless night of molar melodrama, and she was actually in a good mood despite her teething woes. We enjoyed an extended cuddle session on the couch before sharing a breakfast of Cheerios, fresh blueberries, and almond milk. Consequently, we were full and happy when we headed to school. Before taking off, we even snapped some spur-of-the-moment photos on my iPhone so we could practice her “cheese.” (Okay, okay, AND so we’d have at least a few solid memories of the day, in case those school photos end up being awful. I try to think ahead when I’ve had enough caffeine to allow for it.) On our way across town, traffic was minimal–hallelujah!– and Gray bopped around to her favorite children’s music, while I hummed along. Everything was going splendidly. Arriving at her classroom, the teachers were all smiles and so was Gray (where’s the photographer when you need him?). She looked spiffy in her little fashion ensemble, and she was in great spirits… That is, until I kissed her and said the dreaded drop-off word, “goodbye.” That’s when a torrent of tears and snot began flowing like a wayward test tube experiment. I cringed as I ducked out of the classroom anyway, knowing her teacher isn’t fond of parents lingering around to console the theatrics. They feel it makes the impending exit that much tougher, and I don’t disagree. I shouldn’t admit this, but while my first thought was “God, it hurts to see my daughter cry like that,” my second was, “Crap. I hope she stops bawling before photo-time.” That’s about as much of a stage mom comment as you’ll ever hear me make. I hope.

Gray's Pre-Preschool Photos

 

Needless to say, I’ll be thrilled if Gray has something vaguely resembling a smirk on her face in those photos. It would be nice if the teachers were able to wipe away the snot and tear residue long enough to snap something good. Scratch that, I’ll even settle for something decent. I know it’s too much to ask for her hair not to do that wonderfully untamed Einstein-like thing it enjoys doing when I most need it to cooperate. I know there was no hair stylist or wardrobe consultant standing by, and I’m not expecting an Annie Leibovitz-style portrait. Not to mention, isn’t it always those days when your kid loses a shoe or spills yellow paint down his/her shirt? Murphy’s law seems to kick into overdrive during the moments I most want him to hide in a corner. Inevitably, I’ll be the parent whose baby is facing the wrong direction in the class photo, or whose daughter has a grumpy, sour expression in a sea of otherwise smiling tots. But you know what else I’ll be? I’ll be the parent who thought to take BEFORE photo day photos, so she’d have some for the fridge regardless :) . Crisis averted.

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

 

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Pre-photos

September 13, 2013

Gray-Children's Place 1

I’ve heard the following phrase quite a few times in my life: “Clothes don’t make the man.” This may be true if you’re a self-aware adult, who doesn’t have raging hormones and a four day-old driving permit. However, the 16-year old me would have staunchly argued that clothes do, in fact, make (or break) the awkward teenager. I recently wrote a post about getting in the “back to school” spirit, and I reminisced about those wacky, wicked days of cramming for tests and doodling the words “I luv J.N” on my binder. (Don’t even try to figure the initials out. You’d have had to be there…) In my humble opinion, going back to school should be done in style, which includes appropriately dressing the part. Think of it this way: if Emilio Estevez hadn’t worn that letterman jacket in The Breakfast Club, how would we have known he was supposed to be the jock? Our apparel makes a statement to those around us; it can define our originality… Or lack thereof. Admittedly, I may have fancied myself a bit more of a trendsetter than I should have way back when. Lord knows I was definitely more fashion-curious than fashion-conscious. Nonetheless, my clothing helped me try characters on for size, during a crucial phase of figuring myself out and learning my own boundaries. With that in mind, I thought I’d go ahead and take my “back to school” wardrobe discussion another step further for you this week. For a little preemptive background, here’s an excerpt from the previous blog, which I think is worth repeating:

        

         ” When I was a child, the phrase “back to school” elicited a mixture of both fear and delight in me. What fantastic summer vacation stories would my friends return with? Would they think I was a total dork because I didn’t have any? Would I still (embarrassingly) be the shortest person in my class? Would my new teachers be nice, or would they plot my demise like the principal in Ferris Bueller? Would I be suffering through hours of homework each week, eclipsing my ability to watch Melrose Place? Would any boys like me this year? (And would I know it, even if they did?) Would I break out in inevitable and mortifying stress-acne before tests? And the biggest question of all… drumroll, please… what should I wear on my first day back to class?! Mind you, that particular assignment required hours of closet perusal, multiple department store outings, a box of tissue to wipe away any melodramatic tears, and one VERY patient mother. I was convinced the right outfit could earn me a prominent place at the popular kids table. Alternately, the wrong one could indefinitely fortify my position as the last pick in every gym class dodgeball game until the end of time. Heaven forbid! I had such a preoccupation with what statement my clothes were or weren’t making, that I kept journals of my favorite get-ups. Sometimes I was even ambitious enough to take Polaroids, for better documentation. God bless the neurotic and overzealous younger me! I was enthralled with being fashion-forward, while simultaneously stuck in the small-minded mentality that jumping on the conservative bandwagon was equivalent to fitting in. I was certain that expressing myself through my unique sense of style would directly, not to mention negatively, affect my social status. That is, of course, if I’d actually had a bona fide social status to begin with, which I didn’t. And, despite wearing exactly the same conventional (aka banal and indistinguishable) threads everyone else was donning, I still roamed the middle school corridors feeling as if I stuck out like a sore thumb. Meanwhile, my artistic spirit was dissolving into that sterile, over-lit, hall monitor-supervised background until it was non-existent. It was experiencing a slow, agonizing death by self-imposed conformity. Shallow, perhaps, but I didn’t have bills and a mortgage to fret over in those days, so I think I’ll let that slide.”

Final Children's Place

This is, I suppose, why I get such a thrill out of dressing my daughter in fun, snazzy, trendy garments, even when it’s only to go to the grocery store. Until she’s old enough to pick out her own school clothes, I’m going to continue having a field day! So it is with the aforementioned enthusiasm that I gratefully accepted a back-to-school shopping spree to The Children’s Place. The gift may have been on Gray’s behalf, but let’s be honest, I enjoyed it a heck of a lot more than she did! Frolicking through aisles of colorful kid’s clothes and indulging in some lively retail therapy? Are you kidding? Can you say, “ thoroughly blessed” and “appreciative?!”  Thanks to The Children’s Place, Gray and I are officially in the “back to school” spirit. We picked out some really fantastic basic pieces that Gray can wear well into next year (check them out in the photos above!). And, when I found myself salivating over a really fabulous sequined beret, I got that for her too! I don’t know if Gray will eventually be the class president, head of the debate club, spelling bee champion, or volleyball captain. For all I know, maybe she’ll walk an entirely different path. But if I have anything to say about it, she’ll be well dressed doing whatever it is she chooses!

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • Katena Gorder says:

    I too love Children’s Place. I find clothes for my 3 girls there all the time. Cute, Stylish and the price is right too! Gray is, of course, as adorable as ever!

September 6, 2013
Plaid Kilt From Burberry

Plaid Burberry Kilt from Consignment Mama!

 

As much as I’d love to splurge on my daughter until she’s sporting every cute outfit and accessory this side of the Mason-Dixon line, I can’t support a habit that involves dropping thousands of dollars on designer apparel for a one-year old. I don’t know too many moms who can! The fact is, I think Gray looks adorable wearing nothing but an Elmo diaper, so who needs the closet full of infant Jimmy Choo booties and Versace bloomers? Moreover, it isn’t practical to put my daughter in expensive outfits that will inevitably wind up plastered with blue paint or sporting hardened Cheerios by the end of the day. All of that said, I’m still driven to satisfy my inner runway diva from time to time, which causes me to drool over racks of precious high-end threads at Nordstrom and expensive baby boutiques, even though I know my budget-conscious wallet won’t spring for them. Thankfully, I’ve found a way to indulge my style-conscious affinities without getting myself in huge trouble… consignment! And we’re not talking any random consignment here; we’re talking designer consignment. It’s retail therapy that doesn’t break the bank. Eureka!

I acknowledge that I may be late to this party. Perhaps you’ve been shopping consignment for years already, and you can teach me the ropes! If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite online stores, so I can check them out (see my contest below to win a $50 gift certificate, doing just that!). I’ve found a few physical stores I can visit and peruse as well, but they seem to be few and far between. Ironically, when I started appreciating the value of consignment shopping, I also discovered that my friend, Mandy, had just opened her own online boutique, Consignment Mama. It was serendipitous. I’ve become a frequent patron, stopping by her site weekly to view the new listings. As with all consignment sites (or non-consignment sites, for that matter), sometimes I don’t find anything I’m immediately over the moon about. Other times, I can’t click the “purchase” button quickly enough. For example, I scored an unbelievable mini Burberry plaid skirt (see the photo above), and Ralph Lauren dress a few weeks ago… and neither cost a fortune! Not to mention, it’s neat to support a friend’s home-based business while I’m at it.

 

A Peek Inside a Home-based Business!

Sneak Peek of a Home-based Business!

 

I recently asked Mandy how she’d gotten into consignment in the first place. “I have a great friend who introduced me to local consignment sales not too long ago,” she told me, “and after selling my own kids’ clothing at a couple of them, I was hooked. When I’d find a good deal on clothing for my boys, my heart would race.  It probably sounds cheesy, and like I have no life, but there’s a high that I get when I find a treasure–something I know I would pay more for elsewhere! I also love the idea of passing along gently loved clothing from one mom to the next. “ I thoroughly respect the way she views it. After all, why not spread the fashion love a little? And, as Mandy so succinctly phrased it, “Consigning online offers parents a quick and easy way to keep up with style trends, at a lower price.***” And I’m all about that.

Mandy & Her Beautiful Family!

Consignment Mama Owner, Mandy, and Her Beautiful Family!

 

Mandy’s store carries some non-designer brands as well, which are definitely worth taking a look at. As far as I’m concerned, clothing doesn’t need to be a designer label to look like one. Mandy has two boys, who are two years apart, so she has been able to see which labels hold up, and which ones don’t. In her words, “They don’t have to be fancy to be great quality– Crewcuts, Gymboree, and Gap will generally last you through two rounds of kids. Then you have the designer labels, which take it a step further. That being said, I also love shopping basics brands. When my guys were in preschool, there was no way I was going to put them in something that could risk getting ripped, grass-stained, or covered in shaving cream (!). I knew the clothes would get beat up. That’s part of the history behind my site’s bargain basement; there are pants in the basement that have small grass stains but, if you know your child is going to wear them out, why not pay $.50 or $1 for pants rather than $5-$10?” I couldn’t agree more. While I may not have rough and tumble boys, Gray seems to be into everything these days. I’m lucky if we can get through an afternoon without her sitting in a dirt pile, splashing in the doggie bowl, and wiping streaks of strawberry across her white tank top. We’re a messy bunch, so the idea of paying next to nothing for a pair of pants, that will promptly get ruined anyway, seems more than fair!

Linen Coat from Consignment Mama

Linen Coat from Consignment Mama!

I guess my point in all of this is the following: I know some folks assume that, by nature of the industry I’m in, I must drop loads of cash on my kid. While there are definitely some fun perks about being in the public eye, I’m not in a position to throw money around. Actually, I haven’t even bought the majority of Gray’s clothing; it has been gifted by her generous grandmothers and our fashion-forward friends! When I purchase items, it’s generally because she is in desperate need of new socks, or because I know I’m getting one hell of a deal… hence, my new love of consignment. If you haven’t considered that route for your own kids yet, I encourage you to do so! Mandy posts new items weekly on Consignment Mama, so definitely take a few minutes to look at her site. When you do, please be sure to tell her I sent you- she rocks! In fact, she has generously offered a 20% discount for my blog readers for the next two weeks (deadline is September 20, 2013), so shop away to your heart’s content! The official coupon code is: CRADLECHRONICLES

As if that weren’t enough, Mandy is letting me host a contest for one lucky winner, by giving away a $50 gift certificate to her store! How can you pass that up? All you have to do is email me a quick note with the subject line “Consignment.” Tell me what your favorite online boutique is (preferably consignment-related), and you’ll be entered to win! I will be choosing a winner at random, by the end of the month, and will contact the winner via email. One entry per person, please!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers (not to mention, happy shopping!),

 

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!

 

To check out Mandy’s Consignment Mama site, here’s her info:

Website: http://www.consignmentmama.com/

Twitter: twitter.com/consignmentmama

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConsignmentMama.

***As a side note, Consignment Mama does not accept consignment items from outside sources.