Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Baby things propagating

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published June 29, 2005

Having had children almost six years apart, I’m amazed at all the baby products on the market that weren’t around when my oldest was born.

Six years ago, I couldn’t protect my child from grocery cart germs the way you can now with those padded seats you can take home and wash. This is the perfect idea for moms like me who suffer from germ neurosis. (The first time I put my youngest in a grocery cart, she chewed on the handle! Ack!) We also now have Gerber Fruit Puffs. Except we don’t call them Fruit Puffs. We call them happy pills. They come in a variety of flavors (cherry is the best, and I am speaking from personal experience) and they have the ability to keep our 10-month-old happy long enough for me to unload the dishwasher with both hands.

And then there’s the vast realm of baby food. Babies are no longer limited to squash and peas. I picked up a jar of beige-colored glop at the store the other day. The label read “Turkey, Rice and Garden Vegetables Dinner.” I guess that sounded better than “Beige-Colored Glop” to the label-writers at Gerber. Curiously, the “Turkey, Rice and Garden Vegetables Dinner” is the exact same shade as “Chicken Noodle Dinner,” “Country Vegetables & Brown Rice” and “Banana & Orange Medley.” I suspect the baby food companies are putting a big one over on the moms of America. But our babies don’t care — as long as they get their glop.

I’ve also found that “baby experts” have changed their advice over the past six years.

When Julia was a baby, a committee of know-it-alls with a bunch of letters after their names announced that nightlights in babies’ rooms caused myopia. I was shocked at this finding. Especially since I had thought myopia was a country in Africa. So, no nightlight for Julia. After about a year of ramming my shins into her bedroom furniture in the middle of the night, those same experts announced, “Oh, never mind. Nightlights are perfectly safe. In fact, failure to use nightlights could cause extensive damage to parents’ shins.”

So Jenna has a nightlight. But she has no wipe warmer. Apparently, wipe warmers — electric devices that protected babies from the unimaginable agony of cold wipes coming into contact with their bottoms — had a tendency to burst into flames. So naturally, the experts started advising against them. After we had let a wipe warmer sit in Julia’s room for a year.

I’ve come up with my own list of products I’d like to see developed over the next several years to help moms of the future:

• “Gerber Carrots: Now! With Unisom!” Talk about the perfect bedtime snack.

• Subliminal tapes for baby with titles such as “Don’t Wake Up ‘Til It’s Light Outside,” “Using the Potty Will Make You Rich” and “When You’re a Teenager, Be Really Nice to Your Parents.”

• “Mommy’s Little Helper: A Prosthetic Third Arm for Busy Moms.” Sure, you look like a freak, but now you can hold the baby and tie your shoes — at the same time!

Remember, you saw them here first.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hello, Mastitis, My Old Friend

Chad and Julia left for Kids Camp today and soon after, I discovered I've got mastitis. It's an infection of the milk duct caused by breastfeeding, for those of you who don't know. This is the third time I've had it since Jenna was born. (Incidentally, she turns 10 months today.) My mom is coming to spend the night with me and stay until Chad and Julia get back tomorrow. In the meantime, my left boob hurts so bad I'm thinking about sawing it off.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

If you thought you were screwed up at 16... "If I Knew Then...", which is Amy Fisher's auto-biography. I checked it out from the library yesterday (remember, I don't believe in buying books) and finished reading it very early this morning. It never ceases to amaze Chad how fast I can read something that I'm really into.

When this book first came out, I was rather annoyed at the title. I thought, "Well, the whole WORLD knew what you did was wrong -- so what was your problem?" But the book shows an Amy Fisher who's not what we all saw on TV. She was really just a very scared, confused teenager who thought shooting her boyfriend's wife would really impress him. She's now married with a son and she champions all kinds of causes like keeping guns out of kids' hands and turning national attention to prison abuse in the U.S. She included in her book a list of warning signs for parents of teens who may be headed down the wrong path in life. She wants in part for her story to be a warning to kids who might think her lifestyle prior to the shooting looked like fun.

I can sense Amy's frustration when she tells readers... "Don't make the same decisions I did -- look what happened to me." Chad and I work with teens and I'm always frustrated when they make bad decisions. "But all you have to do is listen to me!" I want to say. "I've been where you are and that guy is not worth it! You don't know how much you'll regret this in ten years!" But the truth is that teens sometimes need to make their own mistakes. It's how they learn. It's how I learned. Unfortunately for Amy, her mistake got her seven years in prison, and all the things that go along with that.

She also -- like me -- is a columnist for a small community newspaper.

Amy Fisher has a Web site at

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Brownie Supremacy

Chad, the girls and I went with some of our teens to Harold and Lisa Syer's lakehouse last week. A couple of the teens rode there with us. One of them, Ryan, brought a pan of brownies his mom had made. Once we got up to Lake Travis, we had trouble finding them. There was so much food there -- and so many kids -- I just figured they got devoured by someone. No big deal.

So four days later, on the way home, Chad found the brownies. They were under a seat in our Suburban. Chad tasted then and said they were still good. I confirmed his opinion. So...thanks for the brownies, Ryan's mom! We didn't mean to horde them.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Clean Sweep

My oldest child is spending this week at her grandparents' so guess what I'm doing? THROWING STUFF AWAY. I've never looked forward to disposing of stuff more in my life. Julia doesn't believe in throwing things away. She's better than she used to be. We used to have tearful wrestling matches over empty boxes of Lucky Charms. She can let cereal boxes go now, but she still has STUFF crammed in the corners of her room, all over the top of her desk, etc. This really gets to me because over the years, I've found that clutter really gets to me. I don't even believe in buying books. I like to check them out from the library so I can read them and then get them the heck out of my house.

On an unrelated note...I've come to a rather startling conclusion recently. After having been in love with Tom Cruise for a couple of decades, I've realized that the man is pretty much an idiot. I really think he has grape jelly for brains. I think it's a combination of his railing against the mental health profession, his "my way or the highway" devotion to the load of crap that is Scientology, and his engagement to a much younger woman after dating her for two months. Doesn't this man have children? What do they think about this?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Massage chair has become new vice

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published June 15, 2005

Rice pudding. Loud rock music in the car. Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccinos from Starbucks.
These are a few of my vices. I'm not ashamed of them. Everybody needs something to help them get down life's bumpier roads. For a friend of mine, it's "People" magazine. I have another friend who goes to Starbucks almost every day. For my dad, it was Little Debbie cakes -- until his doctor made him give them up.
My vices could be worse. I don't drink or smoke. Other than the Vicodin I enjoyed immensely after giving birth, I don't do any mind-altering drugs. But occasionally I sit in front of "Desperate Housewives" and down a tub of rice pudding, the pinnacle of comfort food. So sue me.
And I'm quite pleased to announce this week that I have found another vice. It's one I highly recommend.
First, find a mall that has a "Sharper Image" store. Go sit in one of their massage chairs. Stay there all day. Or until they run you out.
I have personally fallen in love with the "Stretching Human Touch Robotic Leather Massage Recliner" model. It costs $2,000. It comes in black and "mocha." I love this chair because it knows what I like. You know those wimpy kind of backrubs? Those aren't for me. I prefer the kind that leave bruises.
Trying out the different settings on the recliner last Friday, I pushed a button that said "Percussion." It felt like an angry mob with sledgehammers was inside the chair. I felt bruises forming. Maybe even welts. It was great. I wondered how the people who work at "The Sharper Image" stay out of the chairs long enough to get any work done.
"Wow, I could give up my chiropractor," said the guy in the chair next to me. I could tell by his voice that he was also in "Percussion" mode.
My bruises were coming along nicely. I lay there in a state of electronically-induced bliss, wondering if it's legal in Texas to marry a chair. Especially if you're already married to a person.
"Actually, if I bought one of these," he went on. "I could give up my chiropractor AND my girlfriend."
"Yes, you could," I said, still too relaxed to open my eyes. "The chair would never send you a bill or whine about stuff. And you'd save a lot more than $2,000."
"Hey, you're right!" he said. I glanced over at the guy and saw that he had a look of epiphany on his face. That bothered me. I didn't really mean to talk him into ending two of his most significant relationships. And I didn't know if his soon-to-be former girlfriend was going to show up at any moment. Or the chiropractor. You never know.
I switched off my robotic recliner.
"I better be going, " I said. "Enjoy your chair."
I left him to ponder the prospect of replacing two important people in his life with a piece of furniture the color of coffee.
Mocha coffee. With cinnamon. That reminded me. It was time to head to Starbucks.

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

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Off with the kids...

Not just my kids. Other peoples' kids. Two youth groups' worth. We'll be on a retreat this week, so I won't be online. This means I won't get to post my Wednesday column til I get back. I know you'll all be dying to read it, so on Wednesday you can go to, click on "opinion" and select my name from the list of columnists. My previous post about Alan inspired me, so you might read something that sounds familiar on Wednesday. I changed his name in case he ever googles himself. You'll see why.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Love in Second Grade

Alan and I were a second-grade couple. Our romance was short-lived, but noteworthy. There were no other couples in second grade at the time of our affair. We had been good friends since the previous year, and common interests -- such as our passion for all things Star Wars, and the fact that my mom was his mom's Avon lady -- brought us closer. Then came the day at recess when he asked, "Do you love me?" I replied, "Sure." That sealed it. Relationships were so simple back then.

We sacrificed for each other. Other kids made fun of us. I was taunted to the point of tears by classmates chanting "Deana and Alan sitting in a tree..." As I sat crying at my desk, classmate Chad Small (brother of Brad Small, if any of you know who he is) approached me and, desperately trying to help, solemnly suggested that I run away from home. I don't know how that would have helped, but I appreciated his concern.

Alan and I eventually went separate ways, and in third grade my family moved out of state. On my last day at school, he gave me a teddy bear.

Occasionally I've wondered what became of Alan. Then last night, I came across a web site for alums of the high school in that town. I was scanning the names and there he was. With an email address. So...should I? Would you?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Summer schedule in effect

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published June 01, 2005

Last Thursday, something became crystal clear to me.

I remember in my elementary school years that my mother was never quite as ecstatic as I was to have reached the last day of school.

Now I get it.

This summer, for the first time, I am the stay-at-home mom of two children. My youngest was born after school started for my oldest last fall. So except for a few short holidays, I have never been home with both of them all day. I have now entered a not-so-brave new world.

These first few days have had me pining a little for the summers I had as a teenager. Here is the daily schedule I followed during the summer between the ninth and 10th grades:

11 a.m.: Get up. Turn on “The Young and the Restless.”

Noon: Watch “Days of Our Lives.”

1 p.m.: Watch “Another World.”

2 p.m.: Watch “Santa Barbara”

3 p.m.: Take a nap.

4 p.m.: Mom comes home from work. “What have you been doing all day?” she asks. Roll your eyes and storm out of the room. Parents!

Let’s compare this to my daily summer schedule now:

2:30 a.m.: It’s storming outside, which is causing the cat to have a nervous breakdown on the front porch. Get up and let him in.

4 a.m.: The baby wakes up wanting only her mother.

5 a.m.: Go back to bed.

6:30 a.m.: Recent kindergarten graduate crawls into Mommy and Daddy’s bed.

7 a.m.: Baby is up again.

7:30 a.m. Make breakfast.

8:30 a.m.: Schedule therapy appointment for the cat.

9 a.m.: Give baby a bath.

9:15 a.m.: Dry off. First the baby, then you.

10 a.m.: Both kids are dressed now. You, however, are wearing what you woke up in yesterday.

This could get boring. Let’s just say that the next 12 or so hours are filled with laundry, cleaning up messes, driving kids around, finding new ways to be rude to telemarketers, cooking and cleaning up more messes.

9 p.m.: Recent kindergarten graduate asks, “What does ‘sexy’ mean?” Spend the next hour trying to answer her in a way that won’t leave her confused.

10 p.m.: Child is now thoroughly confused. Put her to bed.

10:30 p.m.: Go to bed.

11 p.m.: Husband inquires about possibility of having a third child. Relocate him to the couch. Go back to bed.

The most difficult thing about this schedule is working in time to take a shower. This involves getting both kids, the husband and the cat to leave me alone all at the same time. Hopefully by August, I’ll have it figured out. In the mean time, you might want to keep your distance.

One more thing — could someone tell me what’s happening on “Days of Our Lives?”

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