Jenna von Oy’s Blog: The World According to Gray

01/23/2014 at 02:00 PM ET

Jenna von Oy Blog
Alyson Hickey Photography

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, in May 2012. She is now 20 months old.

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

In her latest blog, von Oy gives readers a humorous glimpse of the world through her daughter’s eyes.

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 burst 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!

Jenna von Oy Blog
Alyson Hickey Photography

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!

Jenna von Oy Blog
Courtesy Jenna von Oy

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.

Jenna von Oy Blog
Courtesy Jenna von Oy

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.

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!).

Jenna von Oy Blog
Courtesy Jenna von Oy

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

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!

Jenna von Oy Blog
Courtesy Jenna von Oy

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!)

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.

Jenna von Oy Blog
Courtesy Jenna von Oy

14. Every time Mommy and 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.

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.

Jenna von Oy Blog<p
Courtesy Jenna von Oy

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,

— Jenna von Oy

P.S. Please join me on Twitter, and subscribe to my RSS feed for weekly updates, recipes, and additional motherhood anecdotes!

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Showing 17 comments

Guest on

Your blog is so much fun! My children are mostly grown, so you provide me with many “Remember whens?” Love to read each new post and definitely enjoy your writing style! Oh, and the “terrible twos are that bad! 🙂 Thanks Jenna!!

Melissa on

I love reading your blog as my Daughter is 19 months and I can totally relate to it. As she is doing the same things as Gray. This is a great age and I’m loving every minute of it as she’s my second child and we are done having children. Enjoy every minute and I can’t wait to read your next entry.

Catca on

My goodness little Gray is adorable. Love her outfit and love your blog!

Tee Tee on

Your blog absolutely cracks me up! Thanks for the laughter this morning, Gray! (And Gray’s Momma, of course!)

Amanda on

My daughter turns two in February, and it is AMAZING how big of a personality she has at this age! She is the biggest clown and will do absolutely anything to make mommy and daddy (and grandma) laugh. And she absolutely believes that anything that belongs to mommy belongs to her – most of all, my chapstick and EVERY thing in my purse.

Stacey on

Love your blogs!

mom4boys on

First I have to say, you look great Jenna!! And yes, toddler-dom is so much fun, isn’t it? My youngest just turned two last week and he went from my sweet, little guy to an independent, my way only, little man! And it happened over night! I know you are already there, but you will find yourself saying “Pick your battles, pick your battles Jenna” more and more as she gets closer and closer to age 2. Ahhh these are the days!

Shanon on

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this- it made me laugh several times and I don’t even have any kids! I think you’re a great writer and you have a very nice family!

Sarah on

You’re doing a great job! Gray is adorable and looks sooo happy! Speaking of adorable, where on earth did you find her must have outfit in your family pic? The cute checked sweater/long tee, sweater beret and my goodness….those boots! My daughter is 8 months old and I would LIVE to find this for her! It’s so stylish, yet sweet!

Mommytoane on

LOVE this blog. Gray is an absolute doll. LOL I must say tho, Color Wonder works fantastically, and Mr Clean Magic Erasers clean just about all coloring from walls. My daughter is 11, but I recall those little days quite well. Wasn’t too long after she hit 2 that she started becoming indpendant. Everything was “I do it” from putting on shoes and getting dressed to getting her own snacks (we used a kitchen drawer for crackers, and fruit snacks and a fridge veggie drawer for things like pickles, carrot sticks and cheese) to washing up in the tub at night. But she was still my little snuggle bug who wouldn’t wait for a bedtime story. They grow up fast. Treasure it while you can, and document everything!

Sandra on

Yeah, that “boobie” thing will cause a black mom to turn a few shades as well.

Edie on

You are such a talented and gifted writer with so much wit! I’ve never had children, to my disappointment, but truly enjoy reading your blog and looking at those darling pics…the cheeks are enough to jump through the screen just waiting to be pinched…so cute!

Megs on

We are both grew up in Newtown and have babies 20 months old! 🙂 You daugther is adorable!

Anonymous on

Katherine. I just agree… Tammy`s bl0g is impossible… on saturday I got a brand new Lotus Carlton when I got my check for $8014 this past 4 weeks and in excess of $10,000 last munth. without a question it is the nicest job I’ve ever had. I began this 6 months ago and almost immediately started making over $87, p/h. site here W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

sylvia on

cute little girl with GREAT name. But her dad needs to whittle.

Rachel Steck on

I love reading your blog; thank you for sharing your family with us. Gray is adorable! Enjoy every minute with her.
Thanks again.

Jennifer Marsh on

I think your doing a great job. Kudos to you its the hardest job there is. And dont worry part of them stays that way forever. My nine yeard old son still curls up in the same position to sleep that he did when he was one. Every time i see him sleeping its like going back in time