Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Little girls: Sugar and spice and earrings

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 30, 2005

Last weekend, many households in Baytown observed Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

We did, too. But Saturday, we in the Nall house had a celebration of our own. Julia, my 6-year-old daughter, got her ears pierced.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but one of Julia’s fears was conquered through this rite of passage.

I guess I can understand my daughter’s apprehension of someone shooting holes through her body with something actually called a “gun.” But it’s been nice to watch her grow out of it. In the past year, we’ve gone from “I’m never getting my ears pierced” to “I’ll do it when I’m 7” to “Mommy, I’m the only girl in my class who doesn’t have pierced ears! Can we go to the mall right now?”

When I was a kid, it wasn’t the fear I had to get past to get my ears pierced. It was my dad.

Bless his heart. He never meant to be an uptight prude. And really, he wasn’t. He was a minister, but not one of those ministers from that “Footloose” movie who never wanted anybody to have any fun. In high school, I was allowed to date like everyone else, and he even liked most of the music I listened to.

But pierced ears were different. According to my dad, back in his day, girls with pierced ears were the kind who had “loose morals.” As an 8-year-old, I didn’t know what “loose morals” were. But I was a little worried. I knew that at one time I did have “loose molars.”

So my mom did what any God-fearing, husband-respecting, minister’s wife would have done. She waited until my dad went out of town. Then she took me to get my ears pierced.

To make a long story short, my dad completely freaked. Then he spent the next several years calming down.

Then I got to high school, and guess what? The girls who had bad reputations weren’t necessarily the ones who wore earrings. They were the ones who, well, did things to earn bad reputations. I never once heard a guy say to his buddies, “I’m going to ask that girl out this weekend. She just got her ears pierced, and you know what that means!”

Considering what I went through to get my ears pierced, it was kind of nice to take Julia to San Jacinto Mall Saturday with no worries other than Julia’s nervousness. For moral support, we were joined by Meagan Springer, Julia’s best friend from school, and Meagan’s mom, Toni. Meagan got her ears pierced, too, and the two friends sported matching earrings to school on Tuesday.

And the great news is that my dad was fine with Julia’s decision. He’s chilled out quite a bit since I was 8.

Some time I’ll write about what I had to go through to start wearing make-up. Turns out that in “Dad Land,” make-up was also a requirement for having loose morals. But I’ll have to devote another column to that subject. Or maybe a special edition of the newspaper. (“Read All About It! Deana’s Neurotic, But Well-Meaning, Dad!”)

I know right now is the time to enjoy being the mother of a girl, so I’m going to treasure these little rites of passage as they come.

I know that in a few years, it will be my turn to completely freak.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Here's a column I wrote for the local paper about a year ago on misheard song lyrics.

By Deana Nall

"Your love is like bad venison! Bad venison is what I need!" -- Misheard lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine"

Ever notice how finding out the real words to a song makes you realize the song wasn't nearly as interesting as you thought it was?
I don't know if I have a hearing problem or what but I'm always mishearing the words to songs.
It could be genetic. My dad spent much of his life thinking The Chordettes wanted Mr. Sandman to bring them a tree.
And thanks to, I know I'm not alone. You can sit for hours at this site and scroll through scads of misunderstood song lyrics sent in by people just like me.
The Kiss This Guy site was started by a guy who thought that in "Purple Haze," Jimi Hendrix was singing, "Excuse me while I kiss this guy," instead of "...kiss the sky." The guy realized his mistake and a Web site was born.
And it's a funny Web site. I mean a laugh-until-you-have-to-change-your-pants kind of funny.
There's the person who thought Michael Jackson was singing "Fettuccine’s at my door” instead of “Billie Jean’s not my lover.”
There’s also the guy who thought “Oh beautiful for spaceship guys” were the real words to “America the Beautiful.”
I have my own compilation of misheard song lyrics that I’ve been too embarrassed to submit to the site.
I’m dating myself just a tad here, but there used to be a band named Quarterflash that was famous for about a week in 1981. The lead singer was a girl who played saxophone and had spiky hair. Quarterflash’s one hit went like this: “I’m gonna harden my heart. I’m gonna swallow my tears.”
Well, I thought saxophone girl was threatening to swallow her teeth. For years, every time I heard that song, I would think, “If she’s whining about losing her man, she’d better get used to it because no one’s going to want to date a girl with no teeth.”
And that's not all. Most of the world heard Don Henley sing “Your brown skin shining in the sun” in his song “The Boys of Summer.”
Me? I heard “Your brains get shattered in the sun.”
My worst misheard lyric was from Toto’s “Africa.” For about 18 years, the most I could make out of one line in the song was “Sure is killin’ the jerro rising like the limpers above the surrogate eaves.”
Now, I didn’t know what a jerro was, or why anyone would want to kill one, or who the limpers were, or why they were limping, or how eaves could be surrogate, or what any of those things had to do with Africa.
Then I ran across the actual lyrics: “Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.”
Kilimanjaro...the Serengeti...those are places in -- Africa!
Finally, it all made sense.
My all-time favorite misheard lyric isn’t mine. It’s one I found at Remember “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease?” John Travolta didn’t sing the words to this song very clearly -- possibly because it happened toward the end of the movie when Olivia Newton-John was hopping around in front of him in those black leather pants that actually had to be sewn onto her body.
Anyway, the song opens with John wailing, “I got the blues, they’re multiplyin’!”
My fellow lyric mishearer understood him to say, “I got shoes! They’re made of plywood!”
Enough of this for now. My husband just came home from work, and in the spirit of the words Jimi Hendrix never sang...
“Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Thoughts on Jennifer

Jennifer was my friend who died of cancer last summer. I've been keeping her girls at my house two afternoons a week. It's been a blessing to spend time with them. It's helped me get past the "run home and cry" element that I used to experience when I used to see them shortly after Jennifer died.

When the girls are at my house, we have a lot of fun. Their smiles and laughter really minister to me. I don't know how the whole heaven thing works, but I hope Jennifer can see them laughing. I hope she died knowing her girls would be OK.

The other day, the older one (she's 6) had done her homework at our table. They were outside playing with Julia, and I knew their dad was coming soon so I was putting her papers back in her folder. That's when I saw it -- a worksheet for St. Patrick's Day. It said something like "If you found a four-leaf clover, what would you wish for?" Grace had written "For my mommy to come back." My heart just fell out on the floor.

Last March I took Julia to the younger one's birthday party. Jennifer was a few months from death. That day, it really hit me what the cancer had done to her body. She was so bony -- and her skin seemed paper-thin. Her voice was weak and gravelly. The lymphoma had turned this 32-year-old mother into an old woman. I watched as she held Belinda on her lap and helped her open presents. "Can she be here for Belinda's birthday next year, God?" I prayed.

Well, she wasn't. So I guess the next question is, "So what now?" What about Easter? And what about Mother's Day? What will make Tommy and the girls whole again?

It's tempting, but I will not ask the "why?" question. Everyone who loses someone want to know why. Why are we the only ones who deserve an answer?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Forget basketball: This March Madness has candy

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 23, 2005

March Madness is here again. I don’t mean the March Madness during which every single television network shows basketball games around the clock. I’m talking about my own March Madness.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at what this week is like for the Nall family.

Early in the week, I’m chaperoning my daughter’s field trip from Travis Elementary to a one-room school in League City. We’re supposed to bring lunches that schoolchildren would have eaten in the late 1800s. And the food must be in tin pails. Apparently, Laura Ingalls Wilder did not own a Barbie lunchbox.

“Remember that canned drinks, boxed drinks and thermoses didn’t exist in 1898!” says the note Julia brought home the other day.

“You realize,” I told her. “That I’m going to have to go buy a hog and butcher it just to make you a ham sandwich.”

“Mom,” replied Julia, an avid animal-rights activist. “We’re not killing any hogs.”

So we’re going to cheat and sneak some Louis Rich into our tin pail.

We’re also supposed to dress like we live in the Little House on the Prairie. Maybe we’re going to churn butter or something. I’m glad I’m not pregnant anymore. They might make me give birth in a field.

I know the trip will be fun and educational. I just think the main thing we’re going to learn is that there’s a reason people don’t live like that anymore.

Just between you and me, I’m sneaking a Snickers and a Starbucks Frappuccino into my purse. Since this column won’t come out until the day after the trip, no one can stop me! Ha!

Thursday I’ll be heading back to Travis Elementary for the kindergarten Easter egg hunt and picnic. This time, we are allowed to bring food from the 21st Century. I also have to bring 10 plastic eggs filled with candy.

On Saturday, our church is having a spring carnival that also includes an Easter egg hunt. I’m supplying some candy for that, too.

And, because we set the precedent when Julia was barely walking, we will have our own family Easter egg hunt after church on Sunday at our house. This involves boiling eggs, dyeing them and hiding them — along with more candy.

How do you moms of multiple school-aged kids do it? How many eggs can you stuff with Sweet-Tarts before you can be declared clinically insane? I know where I’d end up — huddled in a corner of a nursing home lobby staring blankly at “Matlock” reruns.

“Why is she here? She looks so young,” visitors would inquire.

“Oh, it’s so sad,” the staff would reply. “Years ago, her kids had five Easter egg hunts in two days. She never recovered.”

Thankfully, God never gives us more than we can handle. This is why he gave me two children spaced almost six years apart. The only time they will be in the same school will be 2009 — the year Julia starts fifth grade and Jenna starts kindergarten. That’s the year I’ll be doing class parties in pairs. Two Christmas parties, two Valentine parties, two Easter parties... I’m getting a sugar headache just thinking about it.

I think I can handle it. Just fill my eggs with Excedrin.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Neighborhood that Was

Saturday Julia and I went to the Baytown Nature Center. It's on a piece of land that kind of sticks out into Burnet, Scott and Crystal Bays on Baytown's west side. There used to be a neighborhood there -- about 400 really nice homes that belonged to Exxon execs. Turns out the neighborhood was slowly sinking and no one knew it. Hurricane Carla devastated the area in 1961, and Alicia washed away anything that was left in 1983. Now the local Wetlands Center is trying to encourage birds and other wildlife to move back in. It's been called "the neighborhood that nature took back." I wrote several stories for the newspaper about the neighborhood (called "Brownwood") a couple of years ago and I got to meet several families who lost homes out there.

Anyway, several concrete slabs are still out there. They are all that's left of Brownwood. Julia and I were walking around on one finding all kinds of pieces of tile and brick. It got her really interested -- wondering who had lived there, what the house must have been like. There are lots of other slabs we wanted to investigate, but the mosqitoes were getting pretty thick. We plan to go back soon, armed with repellent.

I think I'll be writing my column this week about how crazy my life is right now. Read all about it on Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Smallest of mistakes can cause trouble

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 16, 2005

One little letter.

Sometimes that’s the only difference between something you meant to write and something horribly embarrassing.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a writer, it’s how powerful words can be — and how much more power they can have if they are accidentally altered the teeniest bit.

Just ask the reporter at my college newspaper who left the “i” out of “recital.” Or the sports editor at the Bryan-College Station Eagle who left the “f” out of “makeshift.” Both stories came out a lot more interesting than what both writers intended.

The street I live on has fallen victim to letter-tampering. Wanda Orton wrote about this a while back. North Burnet Drive, located in scenic, azalea-studded Lakewood, was originally named in honor of David G. Burnet, a name known to every student of Texas history. He owned several hundred acres where Lakewood is now, and, as I understand it, his wife is buried in a front yard somewhere on my street.

Over the years, however, the city of Baytown has put up new signs — signs that feature an extra “T” at the end of “Burnet.” Last time I checked, all the signs for North Burnet Drive say “North Burnett Drive.” So we are apparently paying homage to Carol Burnett instead of the former president of the Republic of Texas.

I am distressed about this — to the point that I insist on spelling my street name with one “T” even though my own husband has given in to the street signs.

“Mapquest even spells it with two “Ts,” he says.

But I don’t have it bad at all compared to the residents of one street in Columbia, Md. They want their street name changed, and I can’t say that I blame them.

Named “Satinwood Drive” decades ago, the street lined with colonial houses didn’t cause any problems for anyone until 1977, when the city replaced the street signs. Suddenly, these innocent families found themselves living on “Satan Wood Drive.”

Oddly enough, several ministers live on Satan Wood Drive, including an Orthodox priest who copes with the name of his street by sprinkling holy water around his house once a year.

Residents of “the Satan street,” tired of the horrified silences they get when giving someone their addresses, are raising money and signatures to get the signs changed back to Satinwood.

I’ve seen typos involving Satan before. A newspaper I used to work for ran a photo around Christmastime of some adorable children — dressed to the nines in their holiday garb — beaming and holding presents.

I guess the copy editor was in a rush and got tripped up by the unfortunate coincidence that “Santa” and “Satan” are so similar. The caption under the photo proclaimed that these cute little kids were “Satan’s Little Helpers.”

Now isn’t that something you’d like to cut out and send to Grandma?

But nothing’s worse than an accidental reference to the devil showing up in a church bulletin. Here’s a typo where the absence of one letter made a big difference: “Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.”

In Christian love, of course.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Back to the Future

I got this from a friend of mine. I thought some of you could relate...


You wore a rainbow shirt that was
and the rainbow went up one sleeve, across your chest, and down the other.

You made baby chocolate cakes in your Easy Bake Oven and
washed them down with snow cones from your Snoopy
Snow Cone Machine.

You had that Fisher Price Doctor's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked.

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.

You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal wheels.

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute (admit it!)

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days.

You had either a bowl cut or pixie not to mention the Dorothy Hamil because your Mom
was sick of braiding your hair.

People sometimes thought you were a boy.

Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession.

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers.

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny shredded outfits.

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze. The swing set tipped over at least once.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color.

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals (the ones with hard sole & the buckle). You also had a pair of salt-water sandals.

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad you wore Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture; and you despised Nellie Olson!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink.

Your hairstyle was described as having wings & or feathers and you kept it pretty with the
comb you kept in your back pocket.

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic.

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your boyfriend.

Every now and then It's a Hard Knock Life from the movie Annie will pop into your brain
and you can't stop singing it the whole day.

YOU had Star Wars action figures, too!

It was a big event in your household each year when the Wizard of Oz would come on TV.

Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags!

You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: Who will I marry. Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or Rick Springfield?

You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Fame soundtrack record album.

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God's eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom. Pot holders - I believe they were called loom loopers

You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player up to the speaker.

You couldn't wait to get the free animal poster that came when you ordered books from the Weekly Reader book club.

Double score if it was a teddy bear dressed in clothing.

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books

You thought Olivia Newton John's song Physical was about aerobics

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs.

You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

You had a Big Wheel with a brake on the side, and a Sit-n-Spin.

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat.

You spent all your allowance on smurfs and stickers for your sticker album!


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Married attention!

I found this breakdown of I Corinthians 13 that I really like. You can read all the books on marriage you want, but it all comes down to what's in this chapter.


Love is slow to lose patience. It doesn't demonstrate irritations or reflect anger or have a quick temper. It has fully accepted the character of the one loved.

Love looks for a way to be constructive. Love is actively creative. It is able to recognize needs. It discovers successful methods of improving or contributing to the other's life.

Love is not possessive. Love does not hold exclusive control where one is allowed little or no freedom to fulfill himself apart from the one who loves him.

Love is not anxious to impress. Love doesn't seek to make an impression or to create an image for personal gain.

Love does not cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. It is not self-centered. It has the ability to change and to accept change. It is flexible. It doesn't allow, or expect, life to revolved around itself.

Love has good manners. It has respect for others which results in a set of Christ-centered standards. It has discretion. It knows what is proper and when.

Love does not pursue selfish advantage. It does not have primary concern for personal appetites or for social status; but it shows concern for needs of the one loved and families and friends involved.

Love is not touchy. Love is not hyper-sensitive or easily hurt. It does not take things personally. It is not emotionally involved with personal opinions so that to reject ideas is to reject the one giving them.

Love does not keep account of evil. Love doesn't review wrongs which have been forgiven. It does not dwell on past sins. It destroys evidence of past mistakes wherever possible.

Love doesn't gloat over the wickedness of other people. Love doesn't compare self with others for self-justification. It doesn't use others' sin to excuse personal weaknesses.

Love is glad with all godly men when truth prevails. Love is in active fellowship with dedicated Christians. It is occupied with spiritual objectives.

Love knows no limit to its forbearance. Love has the ability to live with the inconsistencies of others. It has empathy for the problems of others.

There is no end to Love's trust. Love believes in the person loved and in the person's worth without question. It has no reason to doubt the person's integrity.

There is no fading of Love's confidence. Love is not fickle. It has perfect peace and confidence that God is primarily responsible for introducing the right partner at the right time.

Love has unlimited endurance. Love is able to outlast anything. It is able to endure all obstacles and even love in the face of unreturned love.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

My vote is for Pedro

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 09, 2005

Vote for Pedro.

If you just said, “Who’s Pedro?”, this week’s column may not be for you.

Pedro is a character in my new favorite movie, “Napoleon Dynamite.”

I’ve noticed that people tend to have one of two reactions to this movie.

One is of hysterical laughter, and the other one is somewhere along the lines of “Huh?”

“Napoleon Dynamite” is basically about a white dude with an afro who was absent the day social skills were handed out. He lives with his unemployed 32-year-old brother, his grandma, and a casserole-eating llama named Tina. Napoleon’s best friend is Pedro, a Mexican immigrant and social outcast, who decides — against all odds — to run for class president.

Given the synopsis, I can understand the folks, including the ladies I was chatting with at church the other day, who just don’t get it. I think one’s sense of humor has to be a little “off” to find this movie funny.

I don’t mean the Howard Stern kind of “off.” I mean David Letterman filling balloons with guacamole and dropping them off of 10-story buildings. To me, that kind of thing is the pinnacle of comedy.

So when Lyle, the oblivious farmer across the street from Napoleon’s house, shoots his cow in the head in front of a school bus full of horrified children, I just plain think that’s funny.

Among my favorite lines is when Napoleon is trying to make conversation with a girl in the school cafeteria. He says: “I see you’re drinking one-percent. Is that because you think you’re fat? Because you’re not.

You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.”

You can’t say Napoleon doesn’t have a way with the ladies.

It’s not just the movie that caught my attention. I like the story behind it, too. Jared and Jerusha Hess, then-students at Brigham Young University, made the film in 2003 for $200,000. It grossed more than $45 million in theatres and, in about three months, sold more than a million DVDs. I’ve got one of them.

You can even choose from a variety of “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts at

The Hesses, both of the Mormon persuasion, remind us that a movie doesn’t have to have sex, violence (except for the cow thing) or swearing to be entertaining. I hope Hollywood is taking notes.

And Jon Heder, the previously-unknown actor who plays Napoleon, has already received the ultimate indicator of fame — his own urban legend.

Someone started the rumor that he either died in a car accident or of a drug overdose. It’s not true. Please don’t forward it to me.

On a side note while we’re talking about movies, I watched “The Notebook” the other night. It annoyed me. You can call me a blasphemer if you want.

You wouldn’t be the first. I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.

“Napoleon Dynamite” isn’t perfect, either. The actor who plays the popular guy at Napoleon’s high school doesn’t look a day under 35. And Jon Gries, the red-meat shunning actor who plays steak-eating Uncle Rico, can be seen attempting to stealthily spit steak out of his mouth in one scene. But that’s OK.

I’m still voting for Pedro.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Notebook

We watched "The Notebook" last night. Is there something wrong with me that I found it annoying? At least the 2nd half. I knew what they were trying to do with the movie, but for some reason it just didn't work for me.

Dealing with the Monster of Laundry

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 02, 2005

There’s a monster in our house.

It keeps growing, and at this rate it may consume my house by next month. I don’t know if my homeowners insurance will cover this.

It’s my laundry. It won’t go away.

I make an honest effort. But with all the things I need to do every day, and with a 6-month-old who needs my attention every two-and-a-half minutes, the laundry spends a lot of time just sitting.

Here’s what I don’t like about laundry. No matter how much of it I wash, it will never get done. Even if I stay up all night and wash everything in all the clothes hampers, my family members will get up in the morning, take off their jammies and put them in the hampers. By 6:30 a.m., I will have another load to wash, dry, fold and put away.

My life with laundry didn’t begin until I was a freshman in college, when I found myself in the laundry room of my dorm with a month’s worth of dirty clothes, a jug of Fab in one hand and a phone in the other as my mom dictated laundry instructions from 500 miles away.

I quickly discovered, as most freshmen do, that you don’t really have to do laundry until you run out of underwear. So my solution was simple: I just kept buying underwear. At one point I had 63 pairs. I think I did laundry four times my senior year.

Then I got married and had babies.

Let me tell you something about babies. They are basically just very cute laundry-generating machines. If you don’t believe me, see what happens when a baby sneezes with a mouthful of Gerber peas. You’ll be washing the clothes of anyone who was standing within a five-foot radius.

I know I’m not the only laundry-challenged mom out there, so I thought I’d pass on my weekly laundry schedule that I have been perfecting for the past several years:

SUNDAY: Do no laundry. Sunday is a holy day of ordained rest.

MONDAY: Panic because you did no laundry the previous day and your child has nothing to wear to school. Grab something off the top of the hamper and put it on her.

TUESDAY: Put a load in the washer and start it. Get clean clothes out of the dryer and dump on the living room floor with every intention of folding it.

WEDNESDAY: Direct your husband to the pile when he asks where his socks are.

THURSDAY: Oops! The load you put in the washer on Tuesday is still in there. Wash it again.

FRIDAY: The entire family gathers by the clean-clothes pile in the living room to get dressed.

SATURDAY: Your baby has an Armageddon-style diaper and gets poop on her outfit, the blanket she was lying on and her socks. (How do they get it on their socks?) Thursday’s load is still in the washer. Wash it again.

You have now used a third of a laundry detergent bottle on one load. When it’s done, put that load in the dryer and the baby’s poopy clothes in the washer. Close the lid. Maybe the clothes will just go away.

SUNDAY: Holy day of rest again. Go buy some underwear.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is