Jenna von Oy’s Blog: Happy Birthday to My Sweet Gray

05/22/2013 at 07:00 PM ET

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 36, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now 1 year old.

In her latest blog, von Oy takes a look back at her first year of motherhood – and shares the celebration with a giveaway for her loyal readers.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

Jenna von Oy Happy Birthday Gray Headed to a celebratory dinnerThe Cradle Chronicles

In one year, the earth completes a full revolution around the sun. During that time, there are 52 weeks, 365 days, 12 months, two equinox, and 525,600 minutes. For the majority of my 36 years on this planet, those have been my units of measurement for the passing of a single year … But all of that changed when my beautiful little girl arrived.

Instead, the last year has been marked by a set of non-scientific facts and figures, and the only mathematical statistics my husband and I have charted can be found in an album with a label that reads, “This baby book belongs to Gray Audrey Bratcher.” A year’s worth of time has been tabulated by the number of words Gray has uttered, how far she has crawled, how many inches she has grown, and the hours we’ve spent cuddling. In fact, I’ve been so enchanted by her achievements that I even forgot my own birthday was this month (May 2nd), until my husband reminded me!

I can tell you there have been 365 mornings of waking up to Gray’s wonderfully dimpled and sleepy smile, and 365 nights of singing her into slumber. There have been hundreds of dirty diapers, hugs and kisses that have numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and an infinite amount of thanks given for being blessed to have her in our lives. Yes, my baby is already one year old, and it blows my mind more than the Big Bang theory. (To clarify, I’m referring to the theory regarding the early development of the Universe. Not the CBS sitcom.)

The first year went by faster than I could ask, “Oh my gosh, I really get to be mommy to this amazing, awe-inspiring child?” and “Are you sure I’m qualified?” Every day offers me defining moments that prompt me to marvel at it all. Having the chance to witness Gray’s daily discoveries is a constant joy for Brad and I, and we cry through happy tears each time she moves from one phase into the next. I suspect many of you have experienced something similar. Over the last 12 months, we have watched her accomplish the traditionally notable firsts such as: smiling, laughing, waving, clapping, crawling, pulling up on furniture, cutting teeth, tasting solid foods, saying “Daddy” and “Mommy” and taking her first step.

But there have been other subtler moments too — ones that crept in slowly and seeped into our hearts, never to be forgotten. Some of my favorites include the first time she laid her head on my shoulder to take a nap, the first time she opened her mouth and leaned in to offer me a fantastically slobbery kiss, all of the times she has smirked wryly at something I’ve said, and her nightly ritual of petting our puppies. There are activities that signify our time spent together: reading The Hungry Caterpillar in French, walking through our neighborhood and talking about the trees, singing and signing the ABCs, riding the local carousel, planting our vegetable garden, traveling to both the East and West Coasts, and making up silly ditties about ladybugs and bumblebees.

Gray has already gleaned some important knowledge in her short time in the world, such as the fact that Mommy will always take care of her when she’s sick (she was such a trooper during her recent bout with the stomach flu!), and that some of your best friends in life can have four legs and enjoy barking at the UPS truck. Gray has discovered early on that music comes from your soul, and that dancing around the kitchen with Mommy is liberating, albeit goofy. The things we have taught each other are abounding and priceless … and there’s considerably more to come! It’s a neat ride we’re on together, to put it mildly.

Jenna von Oy Happy Birthday Gray Watching the puppies in the front yardThe Cradle Chronicles

I imagine many of you are looking toward the one-year mark of motherhood as well, if you haven’t already passed it. My sincerest congratulations!! Because let’s be honest, your child’s birthday doesn’t just denote a milestone for him or her, it represents one for you and your spouse too. One year of being a parent is something to be incredibly proud of … like making your first solo sky dive and successfully opening your parachute. 🙂

A little validation and appreciation never hurt anyone! No, I’m not asking for a cookie, or a gold medal, or even a star sticker. I know I’m not the first or last parent on the planet, and I don’t think I’m special because I used to wear floppy hats and crack jokes on a TV show; I’m simply muddling through and trying to be the best parent I can be. Just like you!

I also acknowledge I have MANY more child-rearing years to go, some which will be significantly more difficult then the one I’ve just gotten through. But we all have to begin somewhere, right? Every mom starts at the beginning, where the learning curve is steep, and I’m not sure we give each other enough credit for the effort. So let me be the first to say — “Happy one year of parenting!” I’d sing to you through this blog post, if I could. Maybe just envisioning it is enough to make you chuckle.

Suffice it to say, I am moving into my next year of parenting with mixed emotions. As I recently mentioned on my blog, The Cradle Chronicles, at any given moment you might find me in a corner crying over a pair of outgrown baby bloomers. What can I say? I’m a sentimental fool. If you think that’s bad, you should have seen me break down over the loss of Gray’s favorite pacifier (she managed to drop it somewhere in a department store several weeks ago, never to be seen again…). It’s tough to pack away some of the items that symbolize our adventure thus far, but there’s no way to stop that train.

While I’m sad to bid farewell to Gray’s infancy, I’m simultaneously thrilled to usher in the toddler years. There’s nothing like being overzealously excited to potty train and work toward the “terrible” twos, right? Bring on the love and laughter. Thank you all for continuing to join us on this journey. I appreciate every bit of advice you’ve given, story you’ve shared, and prayer you’ve sent up on my behalf. I look forward to more of the same, as we venture into the second year together!

Jenna von Oy Happy Birthday Gray One year old!The Cradle Chronicles

In honor of Gray’s first birthday, and of my gratitude for the part you’ve played in my fledgling year of parenting, I’ve joined forces with a generous celebrity gifting company (, who created a special gift basket for one lucky winner! It contains all kinds of goodies a mom might need in year one, to commemorate the adventures we’ve been through together. The swag is valued at over $400, and includes a personalized Little Moonjumper blanket, Trumpette sock gift set, Bubele apparel, Toofeze organic teether, and lots more! (See below for a more complete description.) It may seem odd that we’re giving presents instead of accepting them on such a special occasion, but I promise Gray was showered with love on her birthday.

As for me, I received my present on May 21st, 2012, when Gray came into my life. Sometimes the greatest gifts aren’t those that require wrapping paper and bows…

Here’s how to enter the drawing:

1. Send me an email at:, with the subject line “Happy birthday, Gray!”
2. Let me know what you loved most about year one with your child, or what you look forward to most in year one when your baby arrives!

Next month I’ll post photos from Gray’s birthday, as well as the name of the contest winner.

Jenna von Oy Happy Birthday Gray Monitoring the growth of our vegetablesThe Cradle Chronicles

Until next time…

— Jenna von Oy

P.S. Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

P.P.S. Here’s a description of some of the awesome gifts you can enter to win, thanks to Celebrity Chitt: The swag pack is chock-full of goodies for baby’s first year and includes a cozy, personalized Little Moonjumper blanket, Trumpette sock gift set, Bubele apparel set, Glitter & Tulle bling onesie & tutu set with headband, Sticky Bananas tie onesie, custom treats from Ive’s SweetsNTreats, Toofeze organic teether, AbdoMend c-section recovery kit, Peek Away nursing cover, Elonka Nichole carseat canopy and Little Fern’s nursery bedding! Good luck!!

The Rules: (No Purchase Necessary to register and/or participate in this program. Program begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on 5/22/2013 and ends at Ms. von Oy’s discretion. All entrants must be age 18 or older at the time of entry. Limited to one entry per email account. Where is not the sponsor, it cannot guarantee the availability of any of the items described. Void where prohibited by law.)

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Showing 13 comments

Kristin on

Congrats on both your birthdays. Although my kids are a little older, I still remember that first year. It is such an emotional time but one of the most rewarding. Keep cherishing every moment you can. It amazes me how much you start to forget. Love your blog!!!

Lady on

Love the way you write. No pretentiousness at all, I appreciate that. Congrats on your beautiful daughter and her amazing first year of life!!

Anna on

My baby girl was born just three days after Gray, I’ve loved following your posts this year. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, it’s nice to know others are going through the same things sometimes, the ups & downs of a baby’s first year.

MommytoanE on

Trust me, time flies faster than you realize. One minute you’re holding a sweet little baby…with her sweaty little head against your shoulder and her sweet bottom resting on your arm….the next she’s 10 years old and saying “Moooom I’m too big to hold your hand!” I always say document it all. Every single moment that is precious to you. I keep a journal for my daughter (on paper none the less) that she can read when she’s older. It has things like how she used to say words, to picking out her first outfit for kindergarten to her recent choir concert (4th grade). I document it all. One day I’ll be able to look back with her and cry over the sweet memories, laugh over the funny phrases and just enjoy the memories that we created together.
Happy Birthday to Gray, and to you! 1 year is a great milestone to pass.

MA momma on

Missed your blog Jenna. Loved reading about all the fun you’ve had watching Gray grow and develop over the last year. It brought back loads of memories for me – thinking about the first year after my eldest was born, and then reminiscing about the first year after my youngest was born, and now we’re looking forward to an exciting new chapter when our third arrives in July! All those momentous occasions – the smiling, the crawling, the standing, the toddling, the recognition, the joys, the tears. It is amazing, this journey of parenthood we all embark on, isn’t it?!

Torgster on

That little doll is soooo darn cute. Just want to smush those sweet cheeks. Love her.

Tee Tee on

I have always been one to wish the mother a happy BIRTHday on the child’s birthday. After all, they gave birth and that is deserving of a celebration as well! So happy birthday to little Gray and a happy BIRTHday to you, Jenna! I have really enjoyed watching Gray grow up over the past year!

NW Mama on

Wow, A year old already. I have been reading your wonderful blogs about Gray over the past year, and have really enjoyed the adventures you take us on through your blogs. My daughter’s are grown now, (20 & 25) but I reminise about how they were when they were infants so many years ago, and it always seems like yesterday. So Happy Birthday to Gray and Jenna. Thank you for your blogs, I love to re-live the early days of my girl’s and reading about Gray brings that all back to me. Gray is a beautiful girl, getting prettier and prettier as she ages. Hold on tight to her now, cause before you know it they are off to College. LOL

Stacey on

What a beautiful blog!! I know that I don’t actually know you, but I KNOW that you are an amazing mom!!!! I agree with “mommytoanE”, write down as much as you can. I started doing that about 10 years ago, and now I have notebooks full of memories, huge laughs, and tears of joy. Happy Birthday to you and your adorable baby!!!

Crystal on

I have read your blogs on numerous occasions and love the way you articulate yourself, everything is written so beautifully and creatively. Looking forward to reading throughout the next year of your daughter’s life~


So sweet and precious! God bless!

Anonymous on

My granddaughter is going to be a year in one month. I love your blog, and especially the picture with the Chuck Taylor shoes, she also has had not one but 2 pair of them. My daughter grew up watching you on blossom and we have just heard we are going to be grandparents again. God bless you and your family, keep the wonderful blogs coming.

jabran on

i have a sweet baby have same birthday as Gray, i really like your post .it’s helpful and interesting to share your experience , we will enjoy your baby sweetie talk as she growing.