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--

February 7, 2014

 

Hot Chocolate

Love In The Time Of Hot Chocolate!

     

      With all this talk of the Polar Vortex, blizzards, and massive cold fronts, I’m left hankering for something warm and wonderful. No, I’m not referring to sipping umbrella adorned Mai Tais on a Hawaiian beach, or frolicking through waves on the shores of Bali. I’m talking about the only immediate remedy I can think of for the frigid temperatures of a snowy, winter day…

Hot Chocolate!!

There’s nothing quite like wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of cocoa, while the rest of you is shivering in a state of deep freeze. Nothing compares to that creamy, chocolatey goodness, that fluffy mound of whipped cream, or that gooey marshmallow topping. (Unless you are my husband, who thinks marshmallows are the Napalm of food products) Not to mention, a cup of cocoa can put a smile on your kid’s face faster than a monkey doing the Macarena. And that’s saying something.

We are quickly approaching February 14th… that special day when cupid flies, crowds descend upon Godiva Chocolatier, and Hallmark sells cards en masse. Yes, Valentine’s Day is nearly here. But in my book, the “holiday” isn’t just about the love a wife shares with her spouse; it’s about the love a mother shares with her child. Love comes in many different forms, but it should be celebrated regardless, right?  So this Valentine’s Day, why not give your kid a little love in the form of cocoa?

 

I’m going to.

 

Love In The Time Of Hot Chocolate… (With Honey Vanilla Whipped Cream!)

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)

 

Cocoa Ingredients

The Ingredients…

 

Ingredients: Cocoa Mix

 

1  Cup Dutch processed cocoa

3/4  Cup Confectioner’s sugar

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Bar of 70% bittersweet chocolate bar

1 tsp Sea salt

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Cardamom

(you will also need whole milk when you heat the cocoa, but the above recipe makes several cups of powdered mixture. I store mine in a glass mason jar in my pantry, where it’s cool enough to keep for a while!)

 

Directions:  You will be heating a ratio of one cup whole milk to 1 and 1/2 tbs of cocoa mix. You can add more cocoa mix, if you prefer a stronger beverage. I’ll let you do the math on how much milk you will need, based on how many family members you are making cocoa for!

~ Heat the milk in a small pot on the stove, on medium

~ Once the milk is sufficiently hot and frothy, add the cocoa mix and whisk until well incorporated and dissolved.

~ Pour into a mug!

 

Ingredients: Honey Vanilla Whipped Cream

 

1 Cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbs Honey

1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla bean paste (you can substitute extract, if need be, but the paste is much tastier, and doesn’t thin out the cream!)

 

Directions: 

~ Put all ingredients into a large metal mixing bowl. I always put my bowl into the freezer first, so the bowl is ice cold when I begin. It makes for a stiffer whipped cream!

~ Using an electric hand whisk (or whatever mixing tool you prefer), whisk until the cream forms peaks.

~ Put a spoonful of whipped cream on top of the hot cocoa just before serving. The sweetness of the whipped cream dissolves into the cocoa, and makes for a beautiful flavor!

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • NW Mamma says:

    what a great cocoa receipe, I will definately try it out! thank you
    Gray reminds me so much of my girl’s (reason for following your blog)
    Your words take me back to a time of my life that I just loved. My girl’s are 21yrs and 25yrs. and I can still think of them at Gray’s age. Thank you Jenna for sharing your adventures and milestones with Gray. I love to read your blogs they are so heartfelt and honest in a good way!

January 31, 2014

 

Personality Galore!

Personality Galore!

 

If I was ever concerned about the potential of having a child with zero personality, boy was I wrong. And I do mean wrong in the biggest sense of the word. Wrong with a capital “W.” Wrong like Donald Trump’s comb-over, or a rug made from back hair, or trying to teach a cat to pee on the toilet. That’s how seriously wrong I would have been.

(I’m sorry for those visuals. Truly, I am.)

Even though she’s merely 20-months old, I can tell you Gray will never be a wallflower. She won’t be the kid who prefers to sit on the sidelines during a game, or smiles politely and lets someone else win an argument. She will have to work to perfect her poker face, because her dramatic and expressive looks tend to give everything away. No really– everything! (Not that I’m complaining. Perhaps it will assist me during her teenage years, cluing me in before she sneaks out of the house or “borrows” my car without asking.) Suffice it to say, Gray wears her emotions on her sleeve, just like her mama. Subtlety is just not our forte! And while that may not serve us well in certain instances, it has definitely helped me in my occupation as an actress. I’m not suggesting my daughter will follow the same career path, but judging by her range of expressions, that notion might not be so farfetched! I’ll let you decide for yourself…

My Little Ham

My Little Ham

 

And then there’s her more “serious” side…

 

The "Serious" Side

The “Serious” Side

 

Like I said. The acting thing may not be too farfetched. God forbid!

 

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!

 

January 24, 2014

   

 

 These days, in the world according to Gray, everything is rainbows and butterflies. (Save for the rare occasion when a babysitter comes-a-knocking, but that’s another story!) Impromptu kitchen dance parties are encouraged, and people are prone to randomly bursting into songs about broccoli or potty training. Mommy and Daddy offer endless kisses and cuddles, strangers always smile back, everything is a learning opportunity, and disappointment is mostly fleeting. Reality is essentially a Sesame Street revival, minus the Muppets. Welcome to seeing life through the eyes of a 20-month old!

Since this is my first blog of 2014, I thought I’d give you an update on the neat little human we get to share our lives with. Now that Gray is beyond the infant phase and well into the throes of Toddler-dom, we are discovering just what a character we are raising! Her current age is, in short, incredible and incredibly trying. But most of all, it’s truly inspiring to watch our baby turn into a little girl… And a very happy-go-lucky one at that! I feel thoroughly blessed. Gray is unbelievably sweet, emotionally generous, intuitive and inquisitive, eager to be challenged, and quite comedic in her own right. She also happens to be super easygoing– unless it is nap time, of course, when “cranky” is sometimes a fitting adjective. But heck, I get cranky when I’m overtired too. Or when I don’t eat. Or when someone runs a stop sign and then has the audacity to honk at me for being in their way… But I digress. In general, Gray has a calm demeanor with a hint of stubbornness. And let’s be honest, she was probably genetically predestined to have the latter. I’m just saying.

As she moves toward her second birthday, Gray is constantly pushing the bounds of her physical and mental limitations. She certainly keeps us on our toes, but we can’t help but laugh our way through it all. It’s hard not to, given her innate comic timing! Her sense of humor never ceases to amaze us, and often catches us by surprise. If I thought sarcasm and wit were personality traits that wouldn’t reveal themselves for many years to come, boy was I wrong! My daughter is goofy, funny, full of vim and vigor, and smart as a whip. She is a force to be reckoned with. Oh yeah, and she knows it.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting we don’t have some trying times here at our house. The notorious “terrible twos” are on the horizon, and the dark and stormy clouds roll past from time to time. For the most part, I believe any fit or foul attitude (which have been very minor thus far, thankfully) is generally based on Gray’s inability to properly articulate her intentions. It must be frustrating to feel like she can never adequately express herself! I’m doing my best to practice patience when her temper flares, and she tries to do the same for me. I’d like to think we make a pretty good team.

Despite our attempts at patience, we certainly have our share of vocabulary battles. There are moments when my daughter and I are speaking two different languages, and things get lost in translation. For example, there was the time she politely asked to snack on mango, and I mistook it as a request for mushrooms. She typically loves mushrooms, but when you are craving a mango, there’s apparently no room for the consideration of fungi. The mango versus mushroom debate was enough to send her over the edge. And then there was the toast debacle that immediately followed. (In case you haven’t already guessed, naptime couldn’t come quickly enough that day!) During another failed attempt at decoding toddler-ese, I thought Gray was informing me that she was hungry… turns out she needed to go to the potty. Oops, my bad.

The occasional language barrier notwithstanding, Gray’s speaking abilities are advancing rapidly and most statements are remarkably clear. Her growth has been exponential. In fact, I think her vocabulary tripled after we spent the Christmas holiday with my siblings! It’s neat when she suddenly strings a whole sentence together, or recites words I wasn’t aware she knew such as “freckle,” “sushi,” and “excuse me.” I silently celebrate each time that last phrase is uttered; it’s like getting an invisible gold star in Parenting 101. There’s a lot of pride that comes from hearing my child extend polite words without being told to! Here’s hoping we can continue to nurture that.

In honor of Gray’s recent whimsies and witticisms, I thought I’d let her detail some of the fun facts regarding the current state of affairs in her world… Sort of. I’m certain she’d share these observations with you herself, were her inner dictionary extensive enough to do so. Let’s just say I channeled her sentiments and spirited attitude, and ran with it. It’s all in good fun!

 

The world according to Gray:

1. Yogurt and pickles are to be eaten obsessively, though not at the same time and only until Mommy cuts me off… which, sadly, is always too soon.

2. Brushing my teeth is an elective sport, and is mainly employed as a decoy at bedtime. One of these days, I’ll actually get Mommy to forget it’s time for me to go to sleep. It’s a work in progress.

3. Elmo is my BFF and my hero. Mommy isn’t a huge fan of idolizing music or TV icons, but she seems to be cool with my friends on Sesame Street. She says, “Better Elmo than Justin Beiber, I suppose.” Elmo is quite the superstar around here, and makes Barney look like an overstuffed goofball. (No offense, my high-strung purple pal.) In my humble opinion, Elmo should be present at the dinner table, tucked into bed at night, introduced to every houseguest, and even posted on the Christmas tree in lieu of the traditional star. Mommy tries to be as accommodating as possible, though sometimes Elmo’s celebrity status gets a bit excessive for her. Between you and I, I suspect she might be jealous.

Elmo-new

A Star Is Born

 

4. Bedtime isn’t complete without a menagerie of stuffed animals and baby dolls within my line of sight. In case of an emergency, they are there for moral support. I mean, what if one of them wakes up in the middle of the night from a bad dream?  I hate to hear Gus Giraffe cry.

5. Chapstick, otherwise known as ‘’chappy,’’ is technically a face crayon. It is to be applied liberally, whether or not it is actually necessary to cure dry lips. (Mama’s sidebar: Thankfully, the chapstick we have is kid-friendly and all natural. That said, I’ve banned its use indefinitely. Note to self, hide all makeup until she’s 30!).

6. When I’m loud, fear not. When I’m quiet, be afraid. Be very afraid. (Insert maniacal, wicked laughter here.)

Be Afraid

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

 

7. New vocabulary words are mentally filed away for later use, sometimes at the expense of Mommy and Daddy’s ability to sneak in conversations about subjects they refer to as, “for adult ears only.” Super fun terms like “fester” and “darn” are amusing to whip out when Mommy and Daddy least expect it, because it makes them realize just how much I’m listening and absorbing. A good example would be the time I overheard someone on a TV show say a bad word I wasn’t supposed to repeat, that rhymed with “truck.” Mommy and Daddy quickly changed the channel, and I’ve forgotten all about it. For now.

8. The best song to dance to is the Castle theme song. Call me crazy, but I’d take that over It’s A Small World any day! You’re skeptical? Go watch the opening credits, and see if you aren’t bopping your head to the beat and whistling along. It’s so catchy that Mommy even caught me dancing to it in my sleep!

9. Floors are prettiest when festooned with Hello Kitty and Curious George stickers, and a refrigerator is a canvas just waiting for its masterpiece. As is the front door. And the wall. And any other surface that screams out for my creative touch. After all, I am an artiste! My grandma gave me an awesome art easel for Christmas, so I’m learning how to hone my skills without making Mommy bust out the cleaning sponge… Though I’ll admit it’s pretty funny to watch her scramble when I “forget!”  (Mama’s sidebar: Needless to say, we are keeping a close eye on our mini-Michelangelo!)

I'm An Artiste

Mama’s Little Michelangelo

 

10. Puppies aren’t just pets; they are siblings. Consider that my warning. Those rascals tear open your Christmas presents, chew your socks, steal your afternoon snacks, and crawl into mommy’s lap while you are attempting to have quiet cuddle time. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience! On the other hand, they are also experts at photobombing, which I consider to be one of their redeeming qualities.

11. Hats are a cure-all. No one can possibly cry while wearing a funny hat. They should teach that in therapy! Not that I’ve ever been… I’m not even two, for Pete’s sake!

12. Bibs are futile accessories, as clothing is meant to be caked with food at all times. This includes socks and shoes, and often includes Mommy’s clothing as well. Any day that ends with clean apparel is an unsuccessful day indeed.  (Bonus points for getting food stuck in Mommy’s cleavage without her realizing it!)

 13. Straws are never to be used individually, but rather in abundance. Also, the more colorful the straws are, the better the beverage tastes.

The Final Straw

The Final Straw

 

14. Every time Mommy & Daddy say they are proud, a cookie or animal cracker should be negotiated. This almost never works, but I’m not giving up on it.

15. Any pens hooked over Daddy’s shirt lapel are just begging to be stolen. Any important work papers within reach on Mommy’s desk are just begging to be drawn on.

16. Peekaboo is for babies; utensils are the hip thing now! Unloading the dishwasher is a most enjoyable party game (Pin the tail on the donkey and Twister are WAY old school), and putting silverware in the drawer is cause for celebration and applause. During a recent tornado drill at my daycare, the teachers herded all of us into the basement, only to find me clutching my lunch silverware for dear life. Laugh all you like (they did), but you can’t say I’m not enterprising. At least if there had been a catastrophe, I would have been able to dig us out with a spork!

17. The more Christmas presents, the merrier. (Thanks for spoiling me, Grandmas!) It should be noted that the wrapping paper is equally as entertaining as the gift.

The More The Merrier

The More The Merrier

 

18. If it’s good enough for Mommy, it’s good enough for me. This is my official “Tao of Gray,” and is also known as: whatever Mommy has should be mine. The motto works when referencing food, clothing, and any item in Mommy’s purse. This especially includes that wonderful little iPhone thingamajig that I desperately yearn for, despite the fact that I haven’t figured out how to unlock it. YET.

19. Clearly, baby Proofing was installed so I would have an engaging puzzle to conquer. Spoiler alert: foam table corners can be peeled off, gate latches require some discipline but they’re doable, and toilet locks are a fool’s attempt at keeping me from finagling toys and toothpaste tubes underneath the lid.

20. You want to know a really fun joke to play on your dad? Steal his glasses and hide them in the laundry hamper. It’s hilarious watching your parents scour the house searching for them, and I promise your dad will laugh, despite his frustration. (Of course, that’s only if he actually locates them, so don’t hide them too well.) A joke on Mom is always fascinating too. Try this: Next time you’re in a public place, especially if you can manage to pull this off at church, point to your mom’s blouse and enthusiastically shout, “Boobie!” It’s really hilarious to watch your mom squirm. If you’re particularly lucky, her face will turn three shades of red.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into what our life is like with Gray these days… Who knows, maybe you were nodding and chuckling knowingly at her list, as you pictured your little one saying and doing similar things. Pretty soon Gray will be able to hold her own in a conversation, and I won’t have to wonder what’s going through that pretty little head of hers. Until then, I just can’t help speculating! It’s far too amusing.

As always, I love hearing from you, so please feel free to add your own observations in the comment section below. What would your child say if you could put words in his or her mouth?

 

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

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • Kim Q says:

    Gray is such a cutie! I love her boots. :)

    My older daughter (7) was getting a new pair of glasses this week. The optician was adjusting them so they would stay where they were meant to stay on her face. He had to go into the back about 3 times during this process to get them sized appropriately. The third time he went back, she asked me, “How many pairs of glasses did they make for me anyway?” I got quite a chuckle out of that one, and she laughed too when I told her that he was only adjusting the one pair.

    (At 7 and 3, I no longer have to put words in my children’s mouths. They have oh so many words of their own!)

    All the best!

  • Melissa says:

    Gorgeous family and what a gorgeous little girl! LOVE her outfit–do tell WHERE did you get the top, boots, and hat?!! I have a divalicious three year old girl who would LOVE that whole ensemble :)

    • Thank you!! I found Gray’s boots on Ebay, so I’m not sure where you might locate a pair now. I believe they are Gap from a few years ago… The sweater, pants, and hat are from Janie & Jack!

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for the info! Love it all. LOVE!!

  • Marina says:

    I Had so much fun reading your blog, I also have a little one and could identify so many of the situations!!!!
    Have a wonderful year !

  • amanda says:

    As a mother of a 20 month old little boy, I know exactly what you are going thru and love reading your blog! It’s coem to my attention recently just how often I say “oh s**t”! Everytime my son drops somethng, falls or decides to ram his cars into the wall he feels the urge to repeat those words very clearly and not to my surprise but probably more clearly than most words he repeats :) I guess it’s time for mom and dad to watch what they say or buy some “earmuffs” for our little one!

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

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!

  • 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

January 3, 2014

_KPS0910

As December transitions into a stark, cold January, we salute the dawn of the new year by toasting to better days and declaring unwavering pledges of self-improvement. As tradition dictates, we swear off our own imperfections and usher in renewed hope, as we wave goodbye to another passing year. In other words, we are now slaves to those pesky, nagging little nuisances called, “New Year’s resolutions.”

 

In true New Year’s fashion, a night of ceremonious glass clinking inevitably gives way to elaborate plans for personal growth. Maybe the hours of Ryan Seacrest jokes, Miley Cyrus performances, and Times Square antics have rendered us overly loopy. Or perhaps we should blame the spiked punch that was put out after the kids were put to bed. Either way, we usher in the coming year with promises of grandeur, professing impossible oaths such as: “I won’t get addicted to anymore stupid reality shows,” and “I vow to never eat another piece of chocolate as long as I live.” (You know, phrases that scare us the following morning, once the champagne haze has worn off.) Some of those assertions make it to the light of day, while others don’t– their importance losing steam in the face of higher priorities as the year progresses. But the point is really that we contemplated our own shortcomings long enough to make those commitments in the first place, right?

 

Maybe?

 

Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge fan of establishing New Year’s resolutions. In theory, I should be open to bettering and enriching my life all year long, shouldn’t I? Not to mention, it’s such a daunting task to make a lifestyle overhaul before the year has even begun! But I suppose it’s also a positive and motivating way to initiate the next twelve months. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to share five things I hope to accomplish and/or work on in 2014. They aren’t all mind-blowing or life altering ambitions (though the last one begs to differ), but they are notable nonetheless. With any luck, I’ll actually stick to them!

 

 

  1. Curb the caffeine & increase my water intake: (She writes as she zealously downs her fourth cup of coffee before noon…) My husband is a huge water drinker, and he swears by it for EVERYTHING. Seriously, it’s his cure-all. You have a pain in your knee? Drink water. You’re tired? Drink water. Headache? Water. You can’t focus? Yep, you guessed it. Water. I like to mock him for it, but I know he’s mostly right. Water definitely has its benefits, and I tend to take it for granted. In fact, when given a choice between that or Starbucks, I know where my true alliance is; I pledge my allegiance to the flagship of java. I just can’t help myself. Over Christmas, we got into a water-related discussion with my sister, who is currently getting her degree in Physical Therapy. She mentioned a recent assignment she’d been given, regarding the effects of dehydration on the systems of the body. It’s fairly obvious that dehydration can cause a variety of problems, but the extent of it is downright terrifying. Much like the urge to examine one’s meat consumption after watching Fast Food Nation, my interest in drinking more water immediately peaked. Looks like I’ll be ditching some of those venti lattes for good ol’ H2O! (Note that I said “some,” not “all.” It’s a work in progress.)
  2. Practice my patience: With my husband, my child, my dogs, strangers, and even myself. We all get overwhelmed from time to time, and I know I’m guilty of getting a little hot under the collar when I do. With the terrible twos well on their way, a house full of crazy canines, and a heavy work schedule, my brain feels like it’s on a perpetual mental merry-go-round. And I mean the frantic amusement park ones, not the tame carousels at the mall. I find the anxiety creeping in more quickly these days, and I want to learn to control it with a little more finesse. I was watching Sesame Street with Gray the other morning, and they were singing a song about “belly breathing.” It’s their suggested response to frustration—taking a moment to put your hands on your stomach, breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. And I honestly think they have it right; it calms the inner monster. I’m starting to think Sesame Street is as educational for parents as it is for children!
  3. Finish “The Betweeners” and “Situation Momedy”: Perhaps you’ve heard me mention one or the other of the books I’ve penned in the last few years. Though I technically wrote “The End” on The Betweeners (my fictional book for young adults) three years ago, I’m still tweaking. Like a painter with his canvas, I can’t seem to quit adding brushstrokes here and there. My goal is to complete the project and get it out there to publishers. Similarly, I’m ready to deliver an extra dose of zany motherhood anecdotes to you all, via my other book, “Situation Momedy.” I mean who doesn’t want The Cradle Chronicles 2.0? I’m ready to buckle down and make it happen… Stay tuned.
  4. Sit down and enjoy eating lunch: This seems simple enough, but I generally find myself shoveling in crackers or a piece of fruit as I race around after Gray. Even if she is already down for her afternoon nap, I tend to forgo the quiet lunch in lieu of scanning and filing paperwork, while cramming a sandwich down my throat. I’d like to make a habit of sitting down to appreciate the food before me. For instance, chewing my food might be nice every now and then. I mean, what’s the point of eating if you can’t taste anything? Not to mention, it gives me some built in Mommy me-time. What a treat!
  5. Have another baby: God willing, my husband and I are ready to have another baby. We’ve actually been mentally prepared for a while now, but the timeline isn’t entirely up to us, after all. Here’s hoping 2014 blesses us with another beautiful soul in the family. I am the oldest of four kids, and I just can’t imagine life without my siblings! I’m sure being an only child has its merits too, but I’d love to give Gray an opportunity to be a big sister. I know she’ll be almost as thrilled as we will be to welcome another child into the house. Fingers crossed.

 

 

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday. May your new year be blessed, and your resolutions… well… resolvable!

 

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

Jenna von Oy

 

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  • Liz says:

    Hi Jenna,

    I wanted to send you a note to say I love your blog! I am always checking to see if you added a new one. My daughter Quinn is only a few months younger than Gray and I started reading your blog around when she was born. It’s great to hear someone else is going through the same things I am and you always make me laugh. Keep them coming :)

    Liz

  • Chris says:

    One of your new year resolutions is to drink more water. Jenna, have you tried buying one of those flavor water enhancers like Mio, Crush, the Great Value Walmart/Sam’s knockoff brand, etc. to use to squirt flavor into the water you drink yet? If not, try buying one of them so that you can drink water and enjoy it more with great tasting flavor! Hope you and your family have a Happy New Year too!

    • I haven’t tried any of the flavor enhancers, but I actually don’t mind the taste of straight up water! It’s really more a matter of forgetting to drink it, or not choosing it over something caffeinated. I definitely need to adjust my mindset about it! That said, I will certainly look into that option. It might just give me the motivation I need!! Thanks for the suggestion! -Jenna

  • Desiree says:

    Okay…seriously? Your blog always has me giggling! My daughter is now 13 and in just a few months, she will round that out to an even 14! I can hardly believe it. In my heart, she is this bouncy, smiley and witty little redhead with spirals curls to boot! Now, she’s all of those things only less bouncy and while she is still very witty, it’s masked with teenage angst and attitude. Your blog is a great respite for me as I remember the days when she was little and frankly, way more fun!

    Thank you for sharing your sweet girl and anecdotes with us. I am sad to say that I haven’t read your book but it has just been added to my Amazon list!

    • Aw… glad I can give you a funny reminder of your daughter’s younger days :) Unfortunately, none of my books are available on Amazon yet, as I am still looking for publishing. But please stay tuned! -Jenna

December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Due to extensive holiday travel plans with my family, I am taking two weeks off from posting new material on The Cradle Chronicles. I hope you understand, and will return on Friday, January 3, 2014, to read the next new Cradle Chronicles installment! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this year’s family Christmas photo… I’m pretty sure Gray’s face says it all!

 

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed holiday season. See you in 2014!

 

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!

December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Due to extensive holiday travel plans with my family, I am taking two weeks off from posting new material on The Cradle Chronicles. I hope you understand, and will return on Friday, January 3, 2014, to read the next new Cradle Chronicles installment! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this year’s family Christmas photo… I’m pretty sure Gray’s face says it all!

 

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed holiday season. See you in 2014!

 

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!

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

 

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

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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

 

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!

 

 

 

  • 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!