Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Weekend turns busy with two excursions

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published April 27, 2005

We almost had a nice, quiet Saturday. But then I decided we should go to the San Jacinto Day Festival. A truckload of Texas history took place right around here, and, by golly, I’m going to expose my kids to it.

Besides, who needs a restful, unscheduled day at home when you can pack up the kids and take them to witness people pretending to kill each other?

So off we went to the San Jacinto Battleground. We walked around for a while, checking out the Texian and Mexican army camps. We even got to pet horses from the Mexican army. After a lunch of curly fries (you’re not likely to find the food pyramid represented at these things — no matter which food pyramid you go by) we gathered to watch the re-enactment of the Battle of San Jacinto.

One word of caution to parents who are thinking of attending next year’s re-enactment: If your 8-month-old is asleep before the battle begins, there’s a good chance she won’t be by the time it’s over. Just thought you should know.

Anyway, Julia, kindergartener extraordinaire, enjoyed the battle — although she kept calling the Mexican army “the British.” She especially liked the “Twin Sisters,” the famed pair of cannons belonging to the Texas army. Baby Jenna, on the other hand, was not as impressed. We left as soon as Texas claimed victory.

The event rounded out a fun-packed weekend for us. On Friday, we had traveled to San Antonio to visit another significant Texas landmark: Sea World. My husband, Chad, had promised a “field trip” to his Biology II seniors at Baytown Christian Academy. Because the trip was scheduled for a school day, we did what any responsible parents would have done who take their children’s education seriously. We pulled our 6-year-old out of school and took her with us.

On our last trip to Sea World, I was “great with child” and couldn’t do anything but sit and watch the Shamu show and grow depressed about how much the orca and I resembled each other. So this time, Chad took our two young ones to the kiddie park and sent me off to the roller coasters with Abigail Allen, Morgan Caraway, Sharon Green, Lizzie Griffin, Sarah Linebaugh, Jacob Martinez, Michael Purvis, Erica Rambo, Nick Sceets and Ashley Tiller.

Watch out, everyone. These BCA students are about to graduate and head out into the world, and — trust me — they’re not afraid of anything. We trekked to the back of the park to board “The Great White,” an inverted steel roller coaster that’s a lot like Astroworld’s “Serial Thriller,” and the “Steel Eel,” which is a “hypercoaster” that covers 3,700 feet of track in two minutes.

Not much will jolt a mom out of the post-partum blahs like a 15-story drop at 65 mph. I felt like I was 17 again. It helped make up for the seniors calling me “Mrs. Nall” all day. I guess I had a great time because when we got off the Steel Eel (which if you hit right at closing time, you can ride as many times as you want), I noticed my throat hurt. I had apparently screamed a lot. By Sunday morning, my voice was completely gone.

So I may not have gotten a quiet day of rest this weekend, but Chad said he sure did.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The NeoTrio

Hey, if any of you live in Austin, go check out my brother's jazz trio this Saturday or next. Here's the info:

(My brother is Brian Hamby.)

The NeoTrio

Chris Bennett-Drums
Tim Knobloch-Guitar
Brian Hamby-Hammond Organ

Within the next 2 weeks there will be 2 opportunities to see The NeoTrio performing smokin' organ jazz:

1. Saturday April 30, 2005, 7-9 pm, Triumph Cafe, Spicewood Springs, Northwest Austin-reasonably priced Vietnamese food.

2. Saturday May 7, 2005, 7-10 pm, Texas Music Cafe, 1321 South Congress Avenue, South Austin-variety of upscale Texas friendly foods moderately priced. Watch The NeoTrio on the TMC patio, in an exciting new environment.

Upcoming Triumph Cafe dates: June 11 and July 30
Returning to Texas Music Cafe: June 4

Click here for map:

serenity to you,

"When I hear an accomplished pipe organist, I hear the crucifixion of Christ, I hear the cry of pain, of love and sacrifice."

"Jazz is a wholly different interpretation of the same feelings of oppression, of longing, of pain and spiritual yearning, experienced in our own time."

"First embraced by gospel music, then soul, rhythm and blues, blues, jazz and finally rock, jazz on the Hammond organ expresses a dramatic spirituality with a contemporary soul and groove.

"The Brian Hamby Organ trio, transcending the evangelical, seeks to reestablish jazz as a spiritual expression. The absence of words is powerful, inviting the stories of the listener as well as the performers and all that they represent. It's accessible, intimate, exciting and intense."

-Brian Hamby, Nov 2004

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Festival Name Not So Awful

(The second installment in my commentary on a local controversy...)

By Deana Nall
The Baytown Sun
Printed on April 20, 2005

Dear Out-of-Town Visitors to the Baytown Long Neck Festival:

Well, I hope you didn't buy your Baytown Long Neck Festival T-shirts yet.
Because it's not the Baytown Long Neck Festival anymore. To help straighten out that unseemly beer connotation, the event is now being called the Baytown Long Neck Wildlife Festival.
Yes, the new name is a mouthful and a little difficult to say. But please don't let that leave you with the impression that you shouldn't attend Baytown's first-ever festival, or that the organizers and our city leaders failed "Festival-Naming 101."
We've just had a bit of a bumpy start. The May 13-15 event will feature fun activities for the whole family, including a Wild Game Cook-Off. If you've never eaten roasted squirrel, this is your big chance.
I realize that like "Long Neck," the word "Wildlife" can also have a double meaning. But, in this context, rest assured that "wildlife" refers to something you would find at the Baytown Nature Center and not at some fraternity house. Repeat after me: Birds, not beer.
And to be honest, Baytown doesn't have it that bad as far as festivals go. We could be like Crystal Beach, which hosts the Texas Crab Festival every April. During this event, some poor young woman is voted Miss Crab Legs. If I were to win such a title, I'd go home, cry and wear long pants every day for the rest of my life.
Let's also thank our lucky stars that Baytown isn't hosting the Onion Festival, like Noonday, Texas, does; or the Hushpuppy Olympics, held annually in Lufkin.
But nobody has it as bad as Nederland, Colo. This is where "Frozen Dead Guy Days" are celebrated every winter.
The festival is held in honor of, well, a frozen dead guy. He was found in someone's Tuff Shed in 1994. Die-hard (sorry) participants compete for bragging rights in the Coffin Races and the Polar Plunge. The event also offers a parade and tours of the famed Tuff Shed. I would go into more detail, but you wouldn't believe me. You can read about it for yourself (and order a "Frozen Dead Guy" T-shirt) at
Not to worry. You'll find no frozen dead guys at the Baytown Long Neck Wildlife Festival. (At least I hope not.) Or Onion Queens or women sporting crab legs. We will, however, have food, live entertainment and lots of stuff for the kids.
So whether "wildlife" to you means a flock of egrets gracefully taking to flight over a tranquil swamp, or your Cousin Ned stumbling around after a few too many Shiner Bocks, come on out to the Baytown Long Neck Wildlife Festival. We'll have something for everyone.
And if the roasted squirrel doesn't sell, we could have "Frozen Dead Squirrel Days" in 2006. Count me in. And save me a T-shirt.
Meanwhile, logon to and plan your trip. We'd love to see you here. Whatever the heck we're calling this thing.


Deana Nall

Deana Nall's column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Single-Momming It

Chad had to leave Tuesday to be with his mom and aunt in Lubbock while his grandmother is dying of cancer. Chad could really use your prayers while he's gone. This has been very hard on his mother's side of the family.

So this has left me at home with the girls this week. I made the decision to NOT get stressed while he's gone. I was doing OK until this morning, when I went to use the phone and I heard "Your line has been temporarily disconnected..." I had to go to Chad's office to call the phone people (he had to take the cell with him). Turns out our automatic draft had been discontinued without our knowing it. I was not real polite with the phone company guy. I think he was afraid of me. He kept talking to me in soft, timid tones -- the way you would talk to a tiger if it had cornered you.

Anyway, everything's OK now and I now have contact with the outside world.

Here's another prayer request: Michelle is a 2004 graduate of our youth group who got married last July. Their baby is due any moment now (yes, she got pregnant on their honeymoon). She will be having the baby at home with a mid-wife. She found out Tuesday that the baby is sunny-side up. The midwife said she can deliver the baby that way, but not without some pretty awful back labor. So Michelle is needing prayers for the baby to TURN. She is only 19 and a little on the scared side. Also, she's two weeks overdue so you might add in your prayer for the baby to not only turn but turn soon. If you ask Michelle, she'll say NOW would be fine!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Cookie Monster not a cookie lover anymore

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published April 13, 2005

I was betrayed by an old friend last week. An old, furry, googly-eyed friend.

Cookie Monster, the somewhat emotionally unstable, yet loveable, Muppet from Sesame Street, decided to get healthy. The socially-conscious folks at Sesame Street, alarmed at the rise in childhood obesity, put Cookie on a diet.

Cookie Monster and I go way back. I’ve been a Sesame Street fan since the show was just a couple of years old. I grew up enjoying “Monsterpiece Theater,” in which Cookie Monster, as “Alastair Cookie,” hosted plays such as “Chariots of Fur.” I was quite the cultured child.

But the best thing about Cookie Monster was that you could pretty much count on him to flip out over something and eat a truckload of cookies every time he appeared on TV. Until last week. Now the big blue guy is toning it down. He’s telling kids about healthy food choices in his new song titled “Cookies are a Sometimes Food.”

Let me tell you something about real life, people. Cookies are not a “sometimes” food. They are an “any time you need them food.” And, sometimes, that’s all the time.

I’m a big believer in cookie therapy. If you are one of my two faithful readers, you will notice that this is the second column I have devoted to cookies in the last two months. Cookies have seen me through a lot in my 30-something years. And they can work for you, too.

Anything from Nabisco will cover everyday stresses. Waiting in line at the pharmacy for 20 minutes with a fussy 7-month-old? A bag of Oreos will calm you down nicely. Is the baby teething? Better go for the Double Stufs.

But when something big happens, like your in-laws pulling into the driveway for a surprise visit at the same time the school nurse calls to say your child just threw up something that appears to be a vital organ, you’re going to have to pull out the big guns — commercially known as “Pepperidge Farm.” I typically choose to drown my sorrows in the Milanos, which are dark chocolate squished between two shortbread cookies; or the Sausalitos, glorified chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts.

“You’ll love our Pepperidge Farm cookies,” says the company’s official Web site. “Down to the very last crumb.” I think even that’s an understatement. Sometimes, when the crumbs are gone, I’m tempted to eat the little ruffled white papers the cookies came in. Hey, Cookie Monster would have done it.

We grown-ups aren’t the only ones who are stressed out. Our kids are, too. They are constantly being told to do well in school, mind their manners, remember their library books, clean their plates, clean up after themselves, go to bed on time and get up on time.

Cookie Monster has always let kids know that they don’t have to be perfect all the time. They can slip up sometimes and eat more than a few cookies. That’s why I loved the guy the way he was.

Cookie Monster taught me a long time ago that “C” is for cookie. That’s good enough for me. If it’s good enough for you, please sign the online petition at

Please help save Cookie Monster. Before he gets too healthy.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Thursday, April 07, 2005

You're My Obsession

Teens in our youth group: gross-out warning! Beware!

Chad kissed me on his way out the door this morning and I caught a whiff of his Obsession cologne. We had been in this big rush to get Julia ready and out the door and all of a sudden I didn't want Chad to leave. How cool is it to be married for 12 years and still want to make out with your husband?!

We have a lunch date today -- I hope the other patrons of the Taqueria on Decker don't mind me taking long, hard sniffs of my husband's neck during lunch.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Welcome to our ‘Neck’ of the woods

For the readers who don't live in Baytown, this is my (somewhat sarcastic) commentary on a current Baytown controversy:

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published April 06, 2005

Dear Out-of-Town Visitors to the Baytown Long Neck Festival:

First, let me welcome you to Baytown for the first-ever Long Neck Festival May 13-15. We’re glad you’re coming, and we hope you bring lots of friends with you. Second, there has been a bit of confusion over the festival’s name. Please don’t let it discourage you from attending.

I have to be honest. The first time I saw the name of the upcoming festival, I thought it said “Redneck Festival.” On the second try, I read “Long Neck” and instantly thought of beer. So my first impressions of this event were redneck and beer. But let me assure you that this festival of ours isn’t about rednecks or beer. It’s about birds. Birds with long necks. Get it?

I am aware that there are birds with short necks. I guess we don’t give a rip about them.

Anyway, some people have assumed this festival is about beer. And it didn’t help when city leaders decided to allow alcohol to be sold and consumed at the festival. That made the line distinguishing bird from beer a little fuzzy. But the festival really is about birds.

What do birds have to do with Baytown? Well, let me tell you. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Baytown is one of the best birding regions in the United States. Located along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, people come to the Baytown area from all over the world to observe the large variety of native birds here.

But please keep in mind that this festival is only celebrating the birds that have long necks. Such as egrets. And geese. And herons. If any short-necked mockingbirds or mourning doves show up, we’re shooting them.

That’s just a joke. But why isn’t this event called the “Baytown Bird Festival” or some such? I really don’t know. I didn’t plan it. I’m just trying to clear up some confusion.

I’m glad Baytown is having a festival. Winnie has been having its own festival for years — celebrating rice, of all things — and it’s high time Baytown got a festival of its own. Yes, the name can be misleading. Personally, “Long Neck” makes me think of a cold bottle of Bud with ice sliding down the sides. When I want to think of an egret, I think of the word “egret.”

But let me stress once again that this event really isn’t about beer. It’s about birds. Long-necked ones. But if you are still confused, that’s OK. The city rearranged some long-standing ordinances so that this festival, which is strictly about birds, can include alcoholic beverages. So I guess to some people, the Long Neck Festival can be about beer — if they want it to be. But keep in mind that part of this festival’s function is to build Baytown’s image, and we want that image to officially be birds and not beer. So if a friend asks you the inevitable question: Birds or beer? Please reply “Birds.” Even if, to you, the festival means beer.

Because remember, the Baytown Long Neck Festival is about birds. The kind with long necks. Really.

Looking forward to seeing you,

Deana Nall

Beertown, Texas