Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Julia's Booze Binge

The other day, Julia and I were at Wal-Mart in the check-out when she said, "Look, Mommy! That magazine has my name on it!"

She was pointing at a tabloid that had Julia Roberts' picture and the words "JULIA'S BOOZE BINGE WITH SEXY HUNK."

A little Christmas aggression

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published November 30, 2005

Dear Santa,

Signs of your impending arrival are popping up all over the place. The Salvation Army bells are ringing, the stores are packed with shoppers, and the sweet smell of pepper spray lingers in the air.

What? You didn’t hear about that? Seems that things got a little out of hand at the Beaumont Wal-Mart last Friday. An off-duty police officer had to use pepper spray to get the crowd under control in the electronics department.

Christmas-shopping riots are nothing new. I’m old enough to remember Cabbage Patch Kids and the mania they caused when they first hit the market. Didn’t some woman get her leg broken in a toy-department scuffle over one of those things? I recall specifically not wanting a Cabbage Patch Kid because I didn’t want any of my family members getting hurt trying to secure one for me.

I can, to an extent, understand the thrill of the hunt when it comes to getting Christmas presents for your kids. A few years ago, our then-3-year-old wanted a Dancing Dora the Explorer Doll. We went through three Targets and a couple of Toys R Us stores before we found what was probably the last one in the Houston area. It was quite a thrill to wrap my hands around that thing, lift it over my head and yell to my husband, “I got it!” as startled shoppers steered their carts away from me.

That triumphant moment far outweighed the toy itself. Dancing Dora has been living in our house for several years now, and, as far as I can tell, all she does is mutter a few sentences in Spanish before going into a series of convulsions. I guess that’s the dancing part.

Anyway, I just don’t understand what has gotten into everyone. I mean, we have Thanksgiving, a day in which we’re all thankful and everything, and then the next morning we’re supposed to go out at 4 a.m. and whack someone over the head for an Easy Bake Oven? I think we’ve lost something here.

One thing’s for sure: Children don’t care about the toys as much as we think they do. Take last Christmas, for example. My 6-year-old probably can’t name one thing she got, but she’ll always remember that it snowed on Christmas Eve.

And then there’s the baby. You know what she loves to play with? My hot rollers. (When they’re not hot, of course.) She’ll grab two handfuls of them and carry them through the house, dropping them wherever she sees fit. Right now there are rollers in our living room, hallway, pantry and dining room. She’s even stashed a few away in her bedroom. Who needs the Tooth Fairy? We have our very own Hot Roller Fairy.

When did Christmas get so complicated? Is it happening at the North Pole, too? Are your elves beating each other up with giant candy canes? What about the first Christmas? Did it have this kind of aggression? Were the shepherds kneecapping the wise men over who got to see the baby first?

Christmas carols talk about peace on earth. I’d just like to see it in our stores as well. That’s all I really want this year.

Oh, and an iPod. The stores open at 5 a.m. If you take a baseball bat, you should get one for pretty cheap.

Deana Nall

Baytown, Texas

Monday, November 28, 2005

Love of My Life #2

Tommy Stevenson was my best friend in kindergarten. We went to the same school and church, which put us together six days a week. I absolutely loved Tommy. Not really a romantic kind of love, but as deep a friendship love as a 5-year-old is capable of.

I don't remember not having fun with Tommy. We were always laughing together and having a great time. His parents owned a ranch outside Roswell, New Mexico, and I loved going out there. I even got to spend the night out there a couple of times. I was intrigued by the fact that Tommy's mom had to drive a good ten minutes up to the highway just to check their mail.

There was something wrong with Tommy's legs. I never knew what it was, but it was very noticeable when he walked. I was curious about that, but my mom had told me that under no circumstances was I to ever ask Tommy about his legs, and was she making herself clear?

I utterly adored Tommy. He wasn't rough and mean like a lot of the other boys were. He was a little cowboy. He always wore Wranglers and boots and a belt with a big silver buckle. I didn't even have any girlfriends in kindergarten. I didn't need them. I had Tommy. He was a lot more fun, anyway.

"I love Tommy," I used to tell my mom. "When I grow up, I'm going to marry him and push him around in his wheelchair." I figured that if his legs were as bad as they were at age 5, they probably wouldn't work at all by the time he was grown up.

We moved away after that year. I don't know what ever happened to Tommy. I certainly hope he's not in a wheelchair. He's probably living on a ranch somewhere. I hope life has been good to him. I just loved that boy.

Thanksgiving memories

Jenna in 3-D!

After we ate, I changed into my mom's jammies and Julia and I got some couch time.

Here's Chad in a turkey-induced state of delirium.

Jenna and my dad.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Love of My Life #1

I decided to start a new blog series highlighting the loves of my life. You have to understand that the word "love" is being used quite loosely here, in most of the cases.

Love of my life #1 was Kelly Yancey. We were in the toddler class together at 3rd and Central Church of Christ in Lovington, New Mexico in the early '70s. I don't know what it was about Kelly, other than the fact that he was a cute little blond-haired kid who was, for the most part, potty-trained, but I decided that he was the one I should marry. Then I turned three and we moved away.

Years later, Kelly and I were freshmen together at ACU. I told him who I was and that I had had big plans for us at one time. Every time he saw me on campus, he'd put his arm around me and announce, "Hey everybody, this is my wife!"

Halfway through our sophomore year, Kelly left ACU, went home and married a girl named Kelly. So I suppose Kelly and Kelly Yancey are living happily ever after somewhere. I hope so. He really was a nice guy.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Turkey, my cat, and my brother

We had a fun Thanksgiving. We went to my parents' house -- meaning to just spend a couple of hours there -- and wound up spending the night.

Our cat, however, did not have a good Thanksgiving. We keep his litter box in the bathroom, which we keep closed when he's outside to keep Jenna out of there. We forgot to open it before we left. Poor little guy had to make do (pun intended) on Julia's bed.

Brian, my brother, at long last has his own blog. You can also visit his web site here and his jazz trio's web site here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wrapping houses... in Christian love

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published November 23, 2005

Because my husband Chad is a youth minister, we spend a lot of time with the young people at our church.

We know the teen years aren’t easy, and Chad and I try to ease the turbulence of the 6th-12th graders in our youth group by offering prayers, spiritual guidance and listening ears.

And sometimes, we wrap a house.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a church-sanctioned activity, but there’s something about church youth groups and large amounts of toilet paper that just seem to go together.

Our latest attempt took place a few weeks ago as part of our annual video scavenger hunt. Each team gets a video camera and a list of things to videotape. Past challenges have included grocery store antics (standing by the dairy case and mooing whenever a shopper gets a carton of milk), hugging police officers, and knocking on the door of church member Bob Roland, sex education expert for Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District, to ask him about the birds and the bees.

(The one time we did that, his answer was quite shocking. I’m not about to print it here.)

This year, our fearless team was made up of Hanna Myers, Stephanie Whitley, Lauren Whitley, Becky Read and Brice Read. And, because she’s the youth minister’s kid and gets to enjoy such perks, 6-year-old Julia Nall.

The scavenger hunt list included wrapping a church member’s house. I suggested the home of Bill and Margaret Ehlig. In addition to working as associate minister at our church, Bill is also a respected community leader. Margaret is a knowledgeable and wise librarian at Lamar Elementary. Both of them have a pretty good sense of humor. Chad knew Bill was performing a wedding that night. No one was home. The yard, for the moment, was ours.

After pulling up at the house in the church van, we quietly hopped out and got to work while Chad captured the mischief on video. I must admit it was a strange feeling to hand a roll to my first-grader and say, “See, honey, you just let a little of it out and then throw it up into the tree...”

We worked quickly and got back into the van. Just as I was starting it up, we saw a flash of headlights. Then the headlights slowed. It was a silver Taurus. The Ehligs have a silver Taurus.

Two words came to mind: Cold. Busted.

Chad’s first inclination, as a man of God, was to get out and take responsibility for what we had done. My first inclination was to get outta Dodge. I hit the gas, and a chase ensued.

It’s hard to have a chase when your pursuers are between you and the only way out of the neighborhood. I took a couple of turns and the Taurus disappeared. Then I saw a figure up ahead. It was Margaret. She was standing in the street with her hands on her hips. We were done for. I got out as Bill pulled up behind us.

“I had nothing to do with this!” I cried. Then three rolls of toilet paper fell out of my shirt.

As we had hoped, Bill and Margaret had a good sense of humor about the whole thing.

I believe God has a good sense of humor, too. At least I hope so.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Too many M&Ms and time to kill

These are the results of too many M&Ms and a really fun web site.

I made this sign in honor of the few, the proud, the women who have worked as Mike Cope's assistant.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

True Confession #7

Sometimes I wish we would get picked for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" just so Ty Pennington would come to my house and hug me a lot.

In a past life...

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Famous Monk.

Where You Lived: Chile.

How You Died: Typhoid fever.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Youth Ministering...

...that's what we're doing this weekend. Our youth group is meeting the youth group from Memorial CoC at Lake Tomahawk near Livingston. We'll be talking to the kids about real friends and how to find them. I'm driving there tonight with a 6-year-old, a 14-month old and four teens. Prayers would be appreciated.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What I love about cold weather

1) I finally get to wear all those sweaters I bought on sale last spring.
2) Chili.
3) Waking up in the morning and snuggling up with the warm, sexy man in my bed. It's no wonder one of our children is an August baby.
4) Putting cute little hats on Jenna's cute little head.
5) I can drink my caffe mocha from Starbucks without breaking out in a sweat like I do in August.
6) I can burn my "Pumpkin Spice" and "Autumn Wreath" candles.
7) Making Smores in the oven.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Tis the season to shop

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published November 16, 2005

I made a journey Sunday. A pilgrimage, if you will.

This trip didn’t require much planning. Just a phone call from my mom. My 6-year-old and I hopped into the car and we were ready to go.

We zipped over Houston freeways to meet my mom and the three of us headed to Reliant Center. As we entered the building, the crowd seemed to part to let us through. They knew why we were there. We are women. We have money to spend. So get out of our way.

Yep, we spent Sunday afternoon at Nutcracker Market.

Nutcracker Market is almost an ethereal place. For four days every November, more than 300 vendors offer gourmet food, clothing, jewelry, toys and who knows what else to hypnotized shoppers like myself. The event raises funds for the Houston Ballet.

Last year, 68,000 shoppers spent over $9 million at the market. I wasn’t one of them. Strollers aren’t allowed at the market, so 3-month-old Jenna and I stayed home .

But this year, Jenna is old enough to stay home with her dad for an afternoon. And she’s young enough to not know about the fun she’s missing. She can catch up in a year or two.

Back at Reliant Center, Mom, Julia and I navigated the sprawling arena. We saw everything from $200 sweaters to $15 nightlights made out of china teacups. Not just anyone can set up a booth here. Some vendors submit applications for years before they are accepted.

Oh, and the food. There were free samples everywhere. Julia, who stopped liking pretty much food of any kind around age 2, tasted salsa, cherry jelly and barbecue sauce.

Momentarily wracked with guilt over the fact that Chad was probably up to his elbows in a diaper blowout while I was strolling through this consumer wonderland, I picked him up some tamales from the Texas Tamale Company.

As crowded as the market was on its last day, I managed to find more Baytown representation. I chatted with seasoned Nutcracker Market shoppers Gladys Keller and her daughter Karen for a minute.

Julia, still young and building up her shopping stamina, finally needed a break. We sat down and shared a $4 Coke and a $5 baked potato. Yes, the concessions are overpriced. That’s why it’s a good idea to fill up on the free samples.

Then we were back on the floor. We were there three hours and didn’t see half of what the vendors had to offer. I did buy a Christmas present for someone. I also bought a necklace for me. And glass candle holders. For me. Hey, I’ll be buying stuff for everyone in a few weeks. At Nutcracker Market, ‘tis the season to be selfish.

Finally, we stumbled out to the car in a shopping-induced daze. Julia came away with a bracelet with her name on it, and a Christmas ornament of a girl kicking a soccer ball to reflect her new favorite sport. My mom got some nice pottery pieces for decorating her kitchen. It was a good day.

I’m planning to go back next year. And as long as I keep bringing Chad tamales, I don’t think he’ll complain.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My 4-minute 15 minutes of fame

Here I am performing Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time" at our church talent show Saturday night. I got a standing ovation. You like me! You really like me!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A little bathroom humor

My column that was printed in The Baytown Sun yesterday stirred up a little trouble.

I wrote about how difficult even the most basic things can be for moms, such as getting away to the bathroom for even a few seconds. Toward the end of the column, I make a statement about how we all just want to "pee in peace" or something like that. I always have to be careful about what I write, what with Chad being a minister and all. I was a little nervous about having the reference to "pee" in there, but I figured that since it was toward the end of the column that it wouldn't be a big deal.

So Wednesday morning I pick up the paper and a rather large headline above my column screams "CAN WE JUST GO PEE IN PEACE?" I don't write the headlines. The copy editors write them when they put the column on the newspaper page. I heard from the managing editor today that they got a few complaint calls about the word "PEE" in 36-point type, and then the editor called the entire copy desk staff into her office for a little talk on "Words That May be Inappropriate for Headlines."

None of this really bothers me, except for the fact that most people don't realize that I don't write the headlines. I personally would not have put the word "PEE" in large letters right next to my name and little black-and-white picture. I'm thinking right now of the three sections of fourth-graders I spoke to a few weeks ago about "Careers in Writing." I'm sure they all saw it. They read the paper every day in class. Ugh.

I better run now. Hafta go pee.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Can we just go pee in peace?

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published November 09, 2005

I know what the experts say about moms.

They say we want to have our own identity. They say we want to not feel guilty all time. And they say we would like to hear a “thank you” every once in while for everything we do. Well, maybe. But I know what moms really want. We want to go to the bathroom. In peace.

At our house, when my husband wants to go to the bathroom, he just walks in there and shuts the door. When I want to go to the bathroom, I have to start by making the following announcement to my husband, 6-year-old and 14-month-old:

“I will now leave the room to go into the bathroom. I will be in there for 28 seconds. Please do not need anything during that time.”

Then, before anyone can object, I leave the room and walk into the bathroom.

Closing the bathroom door is tricky. That’s because — and other moms know this — that the “click” of the bathroom doorknob can trigger a response in a 6-year-old’s vocal chords, causing her to screech “Mom! Mom!” over something trivial, such as the fact that the baby is toddling down the hall with a fistful of said 6-year-old’s Polly Pockets.

So closing the door carefully, I try to savor the “me time” all the mom magazines say I need. But I know I won’t make 28 seconds. At about 13 seconds, I’ll hear something like this:

BABY: (crash!) Waaaaah!

SIX-YEAR-OLD: Mommy! Jenna just broke something!

HUSBAND: Deana? Where did you go?

Then I wonder: Did Jenna break a toy? Or one of her own bones? It doesn’t matter. Either way, my 28-second vacation has ended 15 seconds early.

I’ve had it worse. Like the time my husband, our then-2-year-old and our cat all needed something at the same time and decided to join me in our apartment bathroom, which had a square footage slightly larger than that of a Monopoly board. I don’t yell at family members very often. But I did that time.

So how can we remedy this problem?

I think we should look at moms and bathrooms throughout history. Ever feel sorry for those pioneer women who had to use outhouses in the backyard? Stop kidding yourself. They were able to enjoy a bathroom that was completely detached from the house. We 21st Century moms can only dream of such a luxury.

And what about all the royals who have had separate bedrooms and bathrooms? Nikolas II, the last czar of Russia, and his wife Alexandra did.

So do Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, they had an army of nannies to raise their children. I think that’s why she always appears so calm and collected.

We moms could also take a hint from the pioneer women and build outhouses of our own. So we may not get “Yard of the Month.” So what? We’ll be peeing in peace.

You could also have a hidden bathroom built. Like one of those Cold War-era bomb shelters. Except you could call it a “Mom Shelter.”

Let me know when it’s finished. I just might move in.

Monday, November 07, 2005

True Confession #6

When I was a kid, I thought everyone on "Eight is Enough" was going to hell because the show came on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

True Confession #5

This is one of my favorite things to eat: I cook macaroni and cheese, slice up weenies in it and squirt ketchup all over the whole thing. It's best when the macaroni is still warm. Yum!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Whether you're a fan of GWB or not, you have to admit this video making fun of him is pretty funny.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published November 02, 2005

Dear Higher-Up Big Shots at Nabisco,

How I love you, oh ingenious creators of the Oreo. For that product alone, you have my eternal loyalty.

Your cookies are a big part of who I am today. Namely, my thighs.

But I must express my concern about one of your other Oreo products. The “Golden Uh-Oh! Oreos with Chocolate Creme.” The cookie itself is OK, although I don’t know why the original Oreo needed to be tampered with in the first place. What really bothers me is the cookie’s name. Let me be honest. As a consumer, I don’t really want to eat something that has “Uh-Oh!” printed on the package.

Sure, you say it’s a fun little marketing strategy. To you, the “Uh-Oh!” on your packaging means “Uh-oh, we accidentally used chocolate creme instead of vanilla. Aren’t we cute?” But it could also mean “Uh-oh, a cookie machine technician named ‘Bud’ lost a thumb in the gears three years ago and we still haven’t found it. Enjoy your cookies.”

Your company is not the only one engaging in this ridiculousness. Quaker Oats is currently marketing “Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! ChocoDonuts” cereal. I’m not sure what the “Oops!” means. The cereal resembles little chocolate doughnuts, and, if you ask me, there’s nothing “Oops!” about chocolate doughnuts. A few years ago, you could also buy “Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Berries” cereal. Supposedly, the Crunchberry machine went haywire and started filling boxes with just Crunchberries and not the little square crunchy things that have traditionally accompanied the Crunchberries.

I’ve steered clear of any variety of Cap’n Crunch ever since this “Oops!” nonsense began. Just between you and me, I think the Cap’n is getting a little senile.

In fact, all of this “accidental” food production is giving me the creeps. I like for the packaging on my food products to be free of apologies, disclaimers, panicked exclamations, and four-letter expletives. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing commercials for “The Jolly Green Giant and His @#$% Broccoli Spears.”

Let’s save the disclaimers for products that actually need them. Just think of all the trouble that would have been avoided if those “flu shot” syringes had “Uh-Oh!” printed across them.

I’m just asking you to name your products what they are. Come on, would you buy a car with “Whoops! Hope the brakes work” printed across the windshield? Or a pair of blue jeans with “Yikes! Your caboose looks HUGE in these things!” stitched across the back pocket?

Of course not. You want your cars and jeans to serve their purpose and not cause you alarm. It should be the same with your cookies. Make them yummy. Make them crunchy. Make them gooey. But don’t apologize for them.

If anything needs a “Yikes” on its package, it would be your Oreo Thin Crisp 100 Calorie Packs. Most people I know reach for the Oreos to drown their sorrows, not to “snack sensibly.” Please. Forget about our health. Just go back to making us fat.

Anyway, thanks again for the Oreo, and keep up the good work!

Deana Nall

Baytown, Texas

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dear Heloise...

OK. I have a dilemma involving glitter, glue and a bathroom sink.

We used blue and silver glitter glue for Julia's R2-D2 costume (which the rain kind of ruined before we could get pictures.) When she tried the costume on, the glue wasn't quite dry. While she was trying to look at herself in our bathroom mirror, she leaned up against the sink and got blue and silver glitter glue on the front of our white porcelain pedestal sink. We didn't realize it right away, and when we found it later, it was good and dry. Any clue how to get this off?