Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My guide to useless products

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published August 31, 2005

As your average American homemaker, I’m constantly exposed to ads for new products. Many of these products are useful, and, like the Swiffer Wet Jet, have made my life easier.

Some of these products, however, are utterly useless. To help out my fellow homemakers, I have compiled a list of what I think are some of the most completely ridiculous products in this, my “Guide to Completely Ridiculous Products,” or “No, You Don’t Need a Diaper Stacker.”

1) Kraft Easy Mac. Oh, come on. Macaroni and cheese is easy already. I’ve been making it since junior high, and I couldn’t really cook at all until my mid-twenties. I’m the one who, after inviting my future husband over for dinner one night, hid in the closet and called my mom to ask her how to make iced tea.

2) Garlic presses. I saw one in Oprah’s “O” magazine that goes for $70. In my 12 years of marriage, I have pressed garlic exactly zero times. And this was after I learned how to cook.

3) Viagra. Enough said.

4) Stationary walker. It isn’t the product that’s ridiculous; it’s the name. There is an explanation, though. Back in the olden days, you could put your baby in a “walker,” a contraption with wheels that would help him learn to walk. Walkers were deemed dangerous, however, when babies started going for strolls down the basement stairs. So manufacturers took the wheels off and renamed them “stationary walkers.” Which, to me, fits in the same category as “jumbo shrimp” or “underpaid athlete.”

Now, stationary walkers are called “Exersaucers” and babies can spin around in them to their hearts’ content while not actually going anywhere. Despite its previously ridiculous name, I highly recommend this product. Why let your baby’s peas dribble down her chin when she can blow them in a perfect radius around the living room?

5) Ziploc Big Bags. Ziploc has a bag for everything. For snacks. For sandwiches. For frozen chicken thighs. And now, Ziploc has a bag your kitchen sink could fit into. It’s called the Big Bag, and they’re not kidding. The extra-large ones measure 2 feet x 2.7 feet. What are we supposed to put in these things, anyway? Giant Cheetos? A couple thousand grapes? Whatever you use them for, be advised. The box warns not to put the bags in the microwave. Since they haven’t made microwaves that big since 1981, I think we’re safe.

6) Little Debbie Big Snacks. They’re just like regular Debbie cakes, except bigger. That’s right, America. Almost 70 million of us are considered obese by the Center for Disease Control. Less than one-third of us get regular physical activity. So how should we combat this problem? By eliminating junk food? No way! Let’s make it bigger. Maybe we’ll seem smaller by comparison.

That isn’t to say I don’t buy Little Debbie products on a regular basis. And it’s not to say I don’t fantasize about Fudge Rounds the size of the Astrodome. Just being honest.

Well, I hope you’ve found my guide helpful. Or maybe you haven’t. If that’s the case, more power to you. If I ever have garlic that needs pressing, I’ll give you a call.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I've got my own horn, and I'm gonna toot it

To help mark its 100th year, Abilene Christian University is publishing a commemorative Centennial book. Inside, you'll find lots of history about the school, including a five-page essay about women who have made significant contributions to the university during its first 100 years. Oh, and I wrote it. (That one essay, not the ENTIRE book.) So buy. Read. Enjoy.

I'm going to lunch eat lunch today at Julia's school. You haven't lived until you've tried to eat elbow-to-elbow with a table full of wound-up six-year-olds. Woo hoo!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Happy birthday, Jenna!

I don't remember much about Aug. 26, 2004. I remember being given too much spinal block and freaking out on the operating table. I remember, during surgery, feeling pressure and inadvertently saying "ouch," and my doctor -- who had his hands deep inside my abdominal cavity -- saying, "What? What do you mean by ouch?!!" I remember my body temperature dropping and me shivering so hard it was more like having convulsions. I remember arguing with a nurse who was about to give me a Phenergan shot. "It's only a half-dose," she said. I don't remember much after that.

But I do remember someone -- probably Chad -- putting a newborn baby girl in my arms. The baby it had taken us two years and three miscarriages to have. I remember exactly what I said when Chad(?) handed her to me for the first time: "Thank you God, for this beautiful baby." That's something I'll always remember.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Giving up on mom magazines

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published August 24, 2005

I’m about to end a relationship. I’ve tried to make it work for years, but I’m on the verge of giving up.

It’s the “mom magazines.” You know, the ones like The Family Circle and Woman’s Day. The ones my mom bought when I was a kid that I thought I was supposed to read once I got married and had kids. I just don’t think I can read another one.

These magazines are pretty easy to differentiate from the twenty-something, independent single-woman magazines. Those magazines have pictures of actresses whose cleavage doesn’t quite fit all the way into their clothing. Mom magazines feature photos of bouquets of flowers on gingham tablecloths and hunks of apple pie with ice cream dripping down the sides.

I’m not opposed to apple pie and gingham. It’s just that these magazines don’t make me feel very ... hip.

And moms need to feel hip. Oh, boy, do we ever. Let’s just take a look at what my Monday was like. While lying on the floor playing with my one-year-old, I lifted her up high above my head and then set her back down with a “sploosh” on my stomach. I use the word “sploosh” because that’s the sound her diaper made when her “surprise for Mommy” exploded out the sides.

After getting cleaned up, I turned on the TV, sat the baby in front of it and said, “Look! Teletubbies! Yay!” in hopes that she would be distracted long enough for me to check email.

In my pre-mom days, I would have never even uttered the word “Teletubbies,” especially with the word “yay.” Now I can name all four of them. In order.

I’m not sure how this decline into the unhip begins. It must be when we start buying those floor-length, “keep-your-hands-to-yourself” kind of nightgowns while we’re pregnant. Next thing you know, we’re strapping on fanny packs, hopping into mini-vans and reading mom magazines.

According to some of the copies lying around my house, editors of these publications think the moms of America need to know about “15 Winter Knitting Projects,” “How to Clear the Clutter” and “Easy Ways to Lose 20 Pounds Fast.”

First of all, I could never get through one knitting project, let alone 15. If I got rid of all my clutter, my house would be completely empty. And I already know how to lose 20 pounds fast. I step on the scale, then put my child down and weigh again. I’m instantly 20 pounds lighter! It’s quite exhilarating.

Lately, I’ve noticed one common factor in these mom magazines. They are obsessed with “belly fat.” Just try finding an issue of “Women’s World” that doesn’t have the words “belly fat” on the cover. Inside, you’ll find ways to hide your belly fat. Ways to lose your belly fat. Ways to decorate your home with belly fat. Hopefully soon, they’ll move on to something else.

Oh, well. I know the point of being a mom is not to be cool. I guess we have to lose our hipness so our kids can have something to be embarrassed about when they’re teenagers.

So I guess I’ll stick with the mom magazines a little while longer. Who knows? I might even take up knitting.

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

Monday, August 22, 2005

Holding out for grace

I've had a little time to read lately, with Julia in school. I've read "Broken on the Back Row," which is Sandi Patty's auto-biography. I've never been a big fan of her kind of music (I'm a fan of the message, just not the music) but she tells an interesting story of sin and redemption.

Now I'm reading "Bono: in Conversation with Michka Assayas." This is actually a series of interviews with Bono all packed into one book. It's probably the closest thing to an auto-bio Bono will ever do. Let me tell you, I LOVE this man. I've loved him since I was 11. I've always loved U2's music, but Bono himself is -- I believe -- one of the greatest humanitarians of our time. I especially love reading about his faith, and I'm including part of what he said about that. (I'll note that the interviewer, a friend of Bono's, is not a believer.)

Bono: "You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics -- in physical laws -- every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "As you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff."

Assayas: "I'd be interested to hear that."

Bono: "That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep sh**. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."

I love this because he seems so real -- so imperfect, yet searching -- about his faith. I'm so turned off by so much of the Christian lit out there...the Joel Osteen-type garbage about how great your life can be if you go to church. That's so utterly ridiculous. Some people might be offended that Bono cussed while talking about Jesus. It makes me see how genuine he is. You can say what you want about what life is or what it's supposed to be, but I'm convicted that this life just really sucks. This isn't where we want to be. While we're here on earth, we have to deal with some pretty ugly stuff -- basically the excrement of sin -- or whatever synonym you'd like to apply to it. Bono just chose the one-syllable one.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'm Not Really a Waitress

A couple of weeks ago I got my nails done. You wouldn't think this is significant except for the fact that I'm 34 years old and had never had my nails done before. Two factors contribute to this:

1) I'm incredibly vain
2) I'm incredibly cheap I haven't gone without color on my nails since junior high but I've always done them myself. I just think our money is better spent on other things -- like things we might actually NEED.

But for my birthday/our anniversary, I spent a morning at a spa and got a massage (by a GUY, but that's another blog) and I got my nails done. They asked me to pick out a color and I came across one called "I'm Not Really a Waitress." Who cares about the actual color -- I had to have this shade on my nails just for the name alone. Hey, maybe in another 34 years, I can do this again!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

All set to hit the Pilates mat

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published August 17, 2005

Dear Joseph H. Pilates,

I realize you’ve been dead since 1967, but please hear me out. I’ll put extra postage on this if necessary.

I wanted to thank you for developing the Pilates technique. For some time, I’ve been looking for an exercise program that involves lying on the floor. I don’t quite get yoga, so Pilates it is.

Finding an exercise program I don’t hate has turned into a life-long quest for me. The only one I’ve honestly attempted is aerobics, which consisted of trying to imitate an overly hyper instructor who hopped around the room and yelled about how great all the hopping was making her feel.

Once, I was even out-hopped by an instructor who was six months pregnant. Who also yelled about how great she felt. Personally, hopping doesn’t make me feel great. It makes me want to take a lot of naps.

Because I live with children, any other exercising I have done has been quite by accident. Like the times I have walked to my daughter’s school to meet her for lunch and left the house so late that I ended up tearing through Lakewood pushing a stroller containing a baby who was probably wondering why her neighborhood suddenly looked so blurry.

This caused the lunch conversation to be restricted to my 6-year-old asking, “Mommy, are you OK?” while I guzzled water and fought to catch my breath. It was helpful to have that stroller to lean on for the way back home.

And then there are the muscles I have developed from lifting each child. It’s no secret that if you play “The Noble Duke of York” enough times with a twenty-pound infant, you will end up with some rather nice biceps. I’m sporting a couple of impressive “Jenna muscles” right now. I’d show them to you. If you weren’t dead.

But lately, I’ve needed something a little more consistent. It’s not my weight I’m worried about. In fact, I weigh less now than I did when I got pregnant with my first child.

(I must pause here to allow time for readers to glance up at my little black-and-white picture and hate me for a moment.)

My problem is that things on my body are drifting from their assigned places. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but when you wake up in the morning and have to look around in the bed for certain body parts, it’s time to do something.

So I’m starting Pilates. I have the tape. I have the clothes. I have a giant silver Pilates ball that took me a week to blow up. I even bought what I call “running shoes.” My husband assures me they’re not. That’s OK. The only running I’d be doing in them anyway is if my house catches on fire while I’m doing Pilates on the living room floor.

Turns out you don’t wear shoes while doing Pilates. But far be it from me to pass up a chance to buy shoes.

Anyway, all I need now is enough time away from my children to get through the entire tape. My youngest leaves for college in 17 years. So I look forward to starting your program in 2022.

Thanks again,

Deana Nall

Baytown, TX

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

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Weirdest Thing Ever

Julia started first grade today. Now Jenna's down for a nap, and I have the house to myself for the first time since May. I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about the weirdest thing that ever happened to me.

I was about seven and we were living in Big Spring, Texas. Big Spring wan't a huge town, but it did have a busy downtown that got congested at noon and rush hour. One day, my mom and I were driving around downtown. We were in our old Plymouth Scamp. It really wasn't that old; it just always felt old. The Scamp was a gold-colored two-door car. Very '70s. For some reason, the passenger door (where I was sitting, without a seatbelt of course -- this was probably 1978) did not close all the way. It was tied shut with a piece of bright yellow rope. When you took a corner too quick, the door still swung open a little bit. And the glove compartment would pop open, which was a problem unrelated to the broken door. I can't believe we rode around like that. Anyway, so my mom and I are in the Scamp when suddenly my mom feels something bite her in her shirt. She looks down and sees a little pincher claw which was apparently attached to some kind of insect that was in her shirt. So she freaks and starts driving like a maniac. She makes a hard left turn, the glove compartment pops open, my door swings open and my school library book, "For the Love of Benji" (remember that little dog? I loved him.) falls out into the busy intersection. Ordinarily, I would have said something like "Hey, my library book just fell out." But I knew that under these circumstances, I should keep my mouth shut. My mom parks at the library and runs inside. (She later said she ran inside the library and tore her clothes off, which made my brother and me laugh hysterically. She then clarified that she made it into the restroom before tearing her clothes off.) She never found what it was that had bitten her.

So we go home. I still haven't said anything about the book -- I figure we'll have to pay for it or something. Then my dad comes home from work and says, "I was driving downtown today and found a book in the street so I picked it up and brought it home. It's about Benji." He handed it to me. My library book! He had no idea it was mine or that I had even lost the book.

I think we got the door fixed eventually.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

No buzz to be had

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published August 10, 2005

So have you caught the buzz? The buzz to which I refer is the “fruit buzz” that McDonald’s says you can get from its Fruit & Walnut Salad.

I’m a little confused about this. I’ve always understood that “getting a buzz” meant achieving a mild state of inebriation. Is this what the fast food corporation is trying to communicate? That their fruit salad will make you feel a little drunk?

What’s in this salad, anyway? I haven’t it tried it, so I consulted and found this description: “... a heavenly combination of fresh, crisp apples (as opposed to the rotten, chewy kind, I guess), juicy, seedless grapes, creamy, low-fat yogurt and sweet candied walnuts.”

That’s it? I’m not going to accuse a great, big corporation (that employs great, big lawyers) of lying, but I’m here to tell you that fruit and nuts will not give you a buzz.

If they did, apples and oranges would be controlled substances. The feds would be rounding up preschoolers by the thousands for possession of juice boxes. There would be 12-step groups for guys named Frank to stand up and tearfully announce, “I’m a kumquat-a-holic.” Watermelons would be smuggled across the border under the shirts of women pretending to be pregnant. Mr. Peanut would go the way of Joe Camel.

If you’re hypoglycemic like I am, fruit can give you the shakes and a nasty headache. But sorry, no buzz. I can appreciate what McDonald’s is trying to do. They’re trying to offer us, the consumers, healthy alternatives to their artery-clogging burgers and fries.

But let’s face it. When we want to eat something healthy, is McDonald’s the first place we turn? Not me. That would make as much sense as going to to quit smoking.

I believe unhealthy food is OK every once in a while. Sometimes, life’s circumstances call for burgers, fries, milkshakes and a couple of apple pies (two for a buck!). And that’s when places like McDonald’s are there for us. But this “we’re looking out for your health” business on the corporation’s web site has got to go. They even have health tips from a doctor who recommends yoga, meditation and “support groups” for better health.

And here’s more ridiculousness about the Fruit & Walnut Salad I found at the web site: “Finally, fresh fruit is at McDonald’s! I don’t think it gets any better than that.” Oh, yes, it does get better than that. It gets better when you take your Fruit & Walnut Salad back to the counter and demand a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Or better yet, go to a place like Someburger, where the only fruit on the menu is in the names of the milkshake flavors. Now that’s a hamburger joint that’s staying true to its purpose.

As for getting a buzz of any kind, that’s something that just doesn’t appeal to me. As a mother of young children, what I’d like more that anything is to feel awake. If McDonald’s could find a way to get caffeine into those fresh, crisp apples, they might be onto something.

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Morning happenings

Just a few moments ago, Julia opened the freezer to get out a box of frozen waffles. She grabbed it from the closed end, causing every single waffle in the box to fall out the open end onto the kitchen floor. Then she took a step and slipped on a waffle. Then she stood up and banged her head on the freezer door, which was still open. All of this happened in about 15 seconds.

When she was done crying, she laughed about it. I pointed out that it was almost like something from a movie, and she probably couldn't do it again if she tried.

On another note, I told her this morning that I would miss her when she starts first grade next week. "It's not like I'm going to college," she said.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Life is Good

Inspired by my friends Michelle and Lesa, I've written my life story. Be warned, though, I'm older so my story is longer. You will probably hate me when you get to the end.

1971 - '75: Hello, world! I am born in Hobbs, New Mexico, although my parents live in Lovington. Apparently Lovington doesn't have a functioning hospital at this time. My dad is a youth minister at Third and Central Church of Christ and my mom is a homemaker. I also have a brother, Brian, who is four years older. I recall playing with neighbors, who give Brian and me chicken pox. I call them "chicken pops." I also remember my dad coming home at night and hugging him, feeling the snow clinging to his coat. We move to Hobbs, where Dad is the youth minister at Taylor St. Church of Christ. We live in the church's parsonage, which is a very nice, four-bedroom house. I have a best friend named Christi. Brian and I are huge Brady Bunch fans. Life is good.

1976: Move to Roswell, New Mexico. No alien sightings. My dad is the youth minister for Country Club Rd. Church of Christ. We live in another nice parsonage. Brian and I ride the bus to fourth grade and kindergarten, respectively. I go half a day, then come home and have soup and watch "Guiding Light" with my mom. Life is still quite good.

1977: Move to Big Spring, Texas. Dad is youth minister at 14th and Main Church of Christ. Mom sells Avon and, with my new best friend's mom, is my Brownie troop leader. I attend the neighborhood school and have lots of friends. These years in Big Spring provide the happiest memories of my childhood.

By school year will be easier now...

Second grade: I'm into Grease, Star Wars, and I get my first boyfriend. We're living in yet another nice parsonage. I watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island every Saturday night. Life is still good.

Third grade: I start piano lessons, something I will continue for the next ten years. In November, we move back to Lovington for my dad to have his old job at our old church. It should have felt like coming home, but it didn't. Many of the kids at church and school spoke another language. It was hard to make friends. I will spend the next several years wishing desperately that we could move back to Texas, because that's where I was happy.

Fourth grade: I'm in a circle of friends at school, so things are better. My dad baptizes me on Dec. 14, 1980. I have a great teacher named Mr. Hogue. His wife had twin girls that year and, when delivering his Girl Scout cookies, I was invited in to see them sleeping in their cribs. I felt so honored. I emailed that teacher recently. Those twins are in med school now.

Fifth grade: Broke my right arm badly. Drama keeps erupting in my circle of friends. My best friend stays mad at me nearly all year for reasons I could never figure out. What is happening?

Sixth grade: In middle school now, with lockers and class changes. I'm in the gifted program and the teacher, Mr. W., is a man from our church and I really like him. He starts giving me pornographic books to read. I was 11 -- I didn't know, I just thought they were "grown-up" books. One has a graphic rape scene that I've never been able to get out of my head. Suddenly the teacher is fired and then I learn it was because my dad had found the books and complained to the school. Mr. W. had been very popular and the kids at school think I got him fired. My dad gets a ministry job -- far, far away -- in Beaumont, Texas. And not a moment too soon!

Seventh grade: We move to Beaumont and actually buy a house. I'm in a private, Christian school. Unlike in Lovington, many of the kids have money and are quick to let me know that I don't measure up. I make a couple of friends, but I mostly want to be invisible.

Eighth grade: The worst school year for me, ever. I wear a ton of make-up, trying to hide behind it. I feel so awkward and ugly. Something happens at the end of the year that makes me come completely undone inside. I don't recover until I get counseling as an adult. The year also brings my one and only "suicide attempt." I find something with a skull and crossbones label on it in my parents' medicine cabinet. I pour it into a glass of Pepsi and sit there staring at it, thinking of all the people who would feel bad if I drank it.

Ninth grade: Things are better. I'm still hanging out with the couple of friends I made in seventh grade. I was a cheerleader that year, an experience that taught me to just stick with piano. Brian has left for ACU, leaving me an only child. I don't like it at first, but then I do.

Tenth grade: SO much better now. The mean kids (except one, who threatens to come to my house and kill my family) are leaving me alone now. My friends and I are having a great time. We're not freshmen anymore, but we're not having to worry about college too much yet. On the last day of the school year, I meet the guy who will become the love of my life for the next three years.

Eleventh grade: After a sweet summer romance, I am so in love with J that I can hardly see straight. We keep breaking up and reuniting throughout the year. Lots of drama to go along with that. I move into Brian's room and put a Duran Duran poster up in his bathroom. When he comes home to visit, he is not impressed. That summer, I went to Kadesh in Abilene, starting an evolution in my spiritual life that still continues.

Twelfth grade: My grandfather dies at the beginning of the year. I'm realizing that if I marry J, we won't have the kind of marriage my grandparents had. I break up with J around Christmas, but we continue our on-again, off-again relationship through the end of my sophomore year in college. In March, I panic -- thinking I've missed out on something. I start dating a lot, drinking a lot, -- everything I hadn't been doing. That pretty much ruins the end of my senior year.

Freshman year at college: I'm at ACU having the time of my life -- except no one asks me out all year, which depresses me. It's one reason I'm still hanging on to J. I don't study much, and my GPA shows it at the end of the year. I meet Carol who lives down the hall, and she is still one of my very best friends.

Sophomore year: This year was much harder on me than I ever let on, but my good friends Carol, Kristi and Susie got me through it! After one especially bad day, I come back to the dorm to find that my friends had decorated my room with a jillion little pieces of paper that said things like "D-NA is my hero!" Another good thing about that year -- I take a basic news writing class and find that newspaper writing is something I really like to do. Oh -- and a freshman named Chad won't leave me alone!

Junior year: The summer before, I get a new start. I don't see J all summer. I don't hang out with my partying friends so much. In the fall, I start working (for pay!) as a staff writer for the campus newspaper. That geeky freshman from the year before doesn't seem so geeky anymore, so we start dating. I am living with Kristi and Susie and having a great time. Life is good!

Senior year: Three weeks before the start of school, Chad's sister Gina dies in a car accident while I am visiting his family in Alaska. We start the year extremely traumatized. I am managing editor of the paper and working such crazy hours and dealing with so much grief that I end up in counseling. Friends again get me through -- especially Carol, who is my roommate until she gets married (to a friend from Beaumont I had grown up with) in December. Chad and I get engaged in October and set an Aug. 14 wedding date.

Second senior year: Yes, I was on the 5-year degree plan. We get married and move into a tiny apartment not far from campus. I'm editing the yearbook and getting ready to graduate. Chad and I have no money, but we did have a Sega and stay up into the wee hours playing Mario and Street Fighter.

1994: I'm working in the Highland Church of Christ office. Chad graduates in December and is accepted to Texas A&M for grad work in genetics.

1995-1997: Living in College Station. I'm working for the local paper (worst job ever!) and a regional magazine. I get news that J died in a car accident, which devastates me for a time. Chad decides he'd rather be a youth minister than a geneticist. We move back to Abilene.

1997-2000: Chad's getting a master's in ministry; I'm working at ACU. These are eventful years. We buy our first house, our marriage nearly ends, Chad's mom comes to live with us during their divorce, I have a difficult pregnancy, and Julia is born on Jan. 19, 1999. That day, my whole life seemed to start over -- like someone hit a reset button. I couldn't remember not being Julia's mom. I had a whole new purpose in life that I wouldn't trade for anything.

2000-2006: We move to Baytown in Aug. 2000 for Chad's first youth ministry job. We love this church and town. I started writing feature stories for the Baytown newspaper in 2001, and a weekly column in 2002. After three miscarriages in 2003, Jenna is finally born on Aug. 26, 2004. I have a wonderful husband, two sweet girls, a roof over my head and a great church family. Life is good.

2009 Update: In 2006, we moved to the Little Rock area for Chad to take a ministry job at a non-denominational church. Arkansas is a beautiful state and we love a lot of things about our church and community. The first year we were here was a transition time, but we had a lot of fun getting to know new people. Then it came time for us to make our own friends, which has turned out to be a more difficult process for me than I ever envisioned. We've been here almost three years now, and God is starting to bring people into our lives. He has blessed us in the past with so many great relationships and I have faith that he will do the same here. In the meantime, Chad really loves his work and the girls have gotten plugged in and are having a lot of fun. I know from growing up that you learn something about yourself with each major change, and our Arkansas adventure has been no different.

2011: We've been in Little Rock five years now. After what I can only describe as a bizarre false start, I finally got to know some people at church and in our community who have become my friends. And last fall, I started working on my M.A. in professional writing at University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After 14 years out of school (and having not done so great the first time around, although I did graduate), I was pretty apprehensive about starting a graduate degree. But it has been GREAT. I can't believe how much I love school. It's been the best thing that has happened to me since we moved here. My life has always kind of revolved around church, and I've realized that when your husband is employed at a church, that's not always the healthiest thing. The Rhetoric and Writing Dept. at UALR is exceptional, I've had phenomenal professors, and I've gotten to know some amazing people in my classes. People keep asking what I plan to do with this degree. I really don't know. I'm just having fun and learning a lot right now. I'd like to keep writing for different pubs from home, because that has been a pretty sweet deal. But as the girls get older, I can see working outside the home, too. And since I like school so much, there's always that Ph.D. Who knows?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

GOOTS sighting

By Deana Nall
The Baytown Sun

Published Aug. 3, 2005

It was bound to happen.

Last week, I just happened to show up at Luby's on Tuesday -- just a very short distance away from the table where my fellow columnist Jim Finley and his revered GOOTs would soon gather for their weekly meeting.

If you don't know about the GOOTs (Gathering of Old Toots), don't be alarmed. It's just a group of guys who get together to eat and discuss sports and other manly things.

That day at Luby's, I was having a meeting of my own. My two girls and I were conducting the business of the "Dining Is A Precious Event, Really" club, or "DIAPER." The name describes what an accomplishment it is to eat in public with two small children. The acronym is in honor of the one member of our group who still isn't quite in control of her bodily functions. I don't want to embarrass her by naming names.

Anyway, we had been sitting there a while when, one by one, GOOTs started showing up. Then it hit me. It's Tuesday! The GOOTs are coming!

It really was a sight to behold. And I was reminded of how different men and women are when they get together around food.

If my peers and I met for lunch every week, here's what we'd talk about. Childbirth. And it wouldn't matter if we were eating. We'd talk about our stitches and our mucous plugs and which piece of furniture we ruined when our water broke. All while sinking our teeth into cute little sandwiches at some quaint, girly-type place like The Mustard Seed.

Guys don't talk about this stuff. Ever. In fact, all I have to do to get my husband to leave the room is utter the word "episiotomy."

Since witnessing last week's GOOTs meeting, I now know what guys talk about. But I would feel bad about sharing it here. Jim Finley could sneak into one of my women-only Bunco parties and write about it in his next column to get back at me. Then I'd be done for. So instead, I'm going to share what I didn't hear from the GOOTs table in this wonderfully imaginative Top Ten list I have compiled.

Top Ten Things You'll Never Hear at a GOOTs Meeting:
10. "Man, I hate sports."
9. "You know, we really should give back to the community. Let's sell apples or something."
8. "I know! Next week, let's bring our wives."
7. "I still don't get it. How is offense different from defense?"
6. "This Jell-O salad is out of this world!"
5. "Have you heard? It's Clinique bonus time!"
4. "Let's meet at the Teapot Depot next week. They have such a cute little gift shop."
3. "Hey! Finley's actually eating something!"
2. "Brad and Jen split up. Foley's is changing names. It's just too much for me to handle right now."
1. "It's football season? AGAIN?"

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I got up this morning, looked in the mirror, and a 34-year-old woman was staring back at me. I resisted the urge to tear the mirror off the wall and throw it out in the street. I'm suspecting all the mirrors in the house have the same defect.

Today we are taking Julia to the beach for my birthday. Jenna is now a crazy crawling baby so we'll see how she does on sand.

When Jenna goes into second grade, I'll be 40. I can hear it now: "Jenna! Your grandma's here to pick you up!"