Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ode to Pants on Clearance

We ran out of cat food last night. I was hoping Spanky, our 12-year-old cat, could hold out until today for me to go to the store. But at 5 a.m. he was hungry, so out of sheer guilt I got up and scrambled him an egg. He took one sniff of it and walked away.

So as you can see, I was forced to go to Target this morning and get cat food. While I was there, I noticed a 75% Off sign. (Last time I saw one of these signs, I called my friend Carol at 8:30 a.m. to let her know about it. I restrained myself this time.)

Anyway, it was pants. Nice, cropped pants in different colors. For five bucks! I really liked the gold ones. But I had Jenna with me, and trying on anything with her around is dang near impossible. So I got the cat food and left. Yes, I checked out at Target with ONE THING in my cart. Then I took Jenna to school.

But I keep thinking about those pants. The problem is that I'm getting lots of work lately and I have SO much to do today. I have seven articles due for two different publications in the next eight days. I have to take advantage of every kid-free minute I have.

Since I can't go try on the pants today, I have written some more haiku. Enjoy.

Gold pants, oh, gold pants
You belong on my body
I'll come back for you

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Unseen

I've been sitting here for half an hour, mesmerized by the photos published in the Birmingham News today. The photos were kept in a box for decades by editors who didn't want to draw national attention to the racial discord in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement. The pictures chronicle the stories of the first black students attempting to enroll in white Birmingham schools, the Freedom Riders, the church bombing that left four young girls dead, as well as other protests and arrests of the Civil Rights era.

I think of Julia sitting next to her friend Simeon, giggling during lunch in the school cafeteria. They have no clue of the sacrifices that were made just so they could do that. One day, they will know. The Civil Rights story is still one that needs to be told. I commend the editors of the Birmingham News for finally letting these pictures tell it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Brave New World

Today I picked Julia up from school and she, Jenna and I headed 30 miles away to the nearest Barnes & Noble. Just for fun. I usually would never dream of attempting such a thing in Houston-area traffic late on a Friday afternoon. But I was determined to not stress and we had quite a pleasant time. Jenna had a ball in the kids' section by grabbing a stuffed Curious George off the shelf, carrying him around for a while, sneezing on his head and then putting him back on the shelf. (I'm sorry, but I wasn't going to buy it just because she sneezed on it. If you avoid the stuffed Curious Georges at the Pasadena, TX, Barnes & Noble for a while, you should be safe.) Julia picked out a birthday present for her friend and a couple of Nancy Drew books. I was looking for a copy of a new magazine called "Empowering Women," in which I have a byline, but they didn't have it. If any of you are so blessed to live in a town that has a B&N or a Books-A-Million, do you mind checking on "Empowering Women" next time you're there? I would just like to know if they are showing up anywhere because I've checked two Houston-area B&Ns with no luck. It should be with the business mags.

Then we hit McDonald's, where Jenna downed most of my fries and Julia ate, well, pretty much nothing. Then we drove home. I'm still shocked out how peaceful the whole outing was. Church isn't even that easy, and it's within our city limits.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published February 22, 2006

I’d like to weigh in on the discussion we’ve had going lately over what qualifies as a sport.

First, you need to know that I hate sports.

I do have respect for the athletes’ dedication and skills. I’ve also been known to enjoy a $15 hot dog at an Astros game.

Having said that, let me reiterate. I hate sports.

And here’s why. Because I am a wife and mommy, there are a zillion things I have to remember at any given moment of the day. How to change a baby’s diaper when the last thing she wants to do is lie still on her back. Whether my 7-year-old likes her bacon “crunchy” or “floppy.” How my husband likes his pants to be hung up. What times my children need to be dropped off and picked up at all the places they go. Whose laundry is in the dryer, whose just came out and whose is going in next. Where my cell phone is. Whether I should clean up the cat vomit or pretend to be surprised when my husband finds it later.

I just don’t have room in my head for batting averages and slugging percentages and yards per carry and every last injury report of some hideously overpaid athlete’s pulled groin.

There. I’ve said it.

So, from a person like me, who really doesn’t give a rip, what is a sport?

The first definition of the word “sport” in my Webster’s is “to amuse oneself.” So in my opinion, a sport is something that looks like it would be fun to do. Like racing through Target with a Starbucks mocha in one hand and $500 gift card in the other. That would be a sport.

So what’s not a sport? Something in which people look miserable while they’re doing it. And No. 1 on my list would be weight-lifting.

Yes, I know weight-lifting requires super-human strength and years of training. But I’d rather watch — oh, I don’t know — the cat throw up than some overgrown, overly hairy man from a formerly Communist country put on a skimpy outfit and give himself a hernia on live TV.

And then there’s skeleton, an event in which athletes who obviously lack sound judgment slide down an icy mountain head-first. That doesn’t look like fun. It looks like a suicide attempt.

Here’s another non-sport that somehow manages to take up an entire issue of Sports Illustrated every year. Anorexic women putting on tiny swimsuits.

I’ll never forget the year I gave my husband a subscription to that magazine for Christmas. I kept congratulating myself when his copy of SI arrived every week because he read it cover-to-cover and he seemed to really enjoy it.

I was home alone the day the swimsuit issue arrived. The swimsuit issue! I had forgotten! My cries of “Arghh!” and “What have I done?” could be heard for blocks. His subscription ran out at the end of that year and I’ve never renewed it.

So there you go. One of my extremely rare commentaries on sports. Don’t look for this to become a regular feature.

And definitely don’t look for a swimsuit issue.

Deana Nall lives in Baytown with her family.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Elusive Swiss Cheese

Yesterday I was at the store looking for Swiss cheese. I didn't see any, so I asked a girl who was stocking the dairy section. "You'll have to ask that guy," she said, pointing to a guy a little further down the aisle. Well, "that guy" knew no English. Whatsoever. He had no clue what I was asking for. I picked up a block of Mozzarella and said, "Like this. But with holes," making a hole shape with my fingers. Didn't help. He picked up a package of crumbled Feta. "This?" he said. He was trying to help. But honestly, it was just Swiss cheese! I'm not a gourmet cook, people! It wasn't like I was asking for Champignon Brie or anything!

So now I'm going to have to find out how Chicken Cordon Bleu tastes with Monterey Jack.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Sharon Traughber wasn't famous. She was a wife and mother who lived in Alaska and ministered to others in her own gentle way. She was like a second mom to Chad and his sister. Sharon passed away in Nikiski, Alaska, last night after a long illness. You can read Chad's tribute to her here.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Tonight Chad and I get to get all dressed up for the gala benefitting Cornerstone Christian Academy, the school where my mom is the director. (It's also the school at First Colony Church of Christ.) And next weekend I am going to a local benefit for the Baytown homeless shelter. The shelter nearly closed down last year because of some financial mismanagement and the community has really come together to keep it open. There will be a roast of the editor of the paper I write for. Chad can't go, so I am going with my best Baytown girlfriend, Lois Snead, and her husband, Bill.

I know I keep harping on Target, but I have to say this one more thing. This Sunday, come home from church, put the kids down for a nap and get yourself to Target because all the Global Bazaar stuff is going FIFTY PERCENT OFF, BABY!

I learned this from my fellow addicts at Slave to Target, so if this turns out to not be true, it's THEIR FAULT.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More-than-usual excitement at Target

I can't believe I forgot to blog about the unprecedented excitement that took place at our local Target the other day.

First of all, let me stress that I was there on a legitimate mission. I was in charge of "Bunco night" for the ladies retreat at our church and I was trying to find a bell to ring to begin and end rounds. Do you know how hard it is to find a bell? The only one I could find at Target was on the bicycle aisle. It was a Disney Princess bicycle bell.

So I was standing there trying to decide if I should buy it or not when a woman walked into the aisle. She was holding a shirt that was still on the hanger. She seemed tense and was looking over the shelf behind me very anxiously. Then she suddenly hurried away.

Meanwhile, I decided against the bicycle bell and was looking elsewhere in the store when I decided I really did want to get the bicycle bell. So back I went to the bicycle aisle. That's when I spotted her again. This time she was looking anxiously around and appeared to be talking into the shirt on the hanger. When she saw me, she suddenly stopped and walked away. "Surely it's not..." I thought. Then, as she was walking away, I saw her stick a walkie-talkie in the back of her jeans. She had been hiding it under the shirt. That's when I knew! I had spotted a plain-clothes cop. Then I saw the hoodlums a couple of aisles over that she had been watching.

Don't you think my Target addiction has reached a new level when I know who the plain-clothes cops are? Is it weird that I found this so exciting? I was there today (hair color -- another legitimate mission) and I looked for her but didn't see her. I was going to wink and whisper "I know who you are." OK, probably not.

In honor of this milestone, and inspired by fellow blogger Kyle Martin, I have written some Target haiku:

Target, I love you
The red bullseye is my friend
Wal-Mart really sucks.

And you wonder why I'm a published writer!

Baby wipes can fix everything

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published February 15, 2006

This week I am paying tribute to the one item I truly cannot live without.

It’s the most lethal weapon in the Mommy arsenal. It’s the baby wipe.

You wouldn’t believe what you can do with baby wipes. Don’t let the cute babies on the boxes fool you. These things mean business. I have yet to identify the liquid they are soaking in, but I know it’s stronger than all my household cleaners combined.

(Incidentally, combining household cleaners is something you should never do. That’s the only thing I remember from my college consumer chemistry class. And I only remembered that after I, as a newlywed, threw some bleach and ammonia into my bathtub one day and started seeing visions of dead relatives.)

Here are some of the messes I have cleaned with baby wipes:

• Crayon marks on walls.

• Fingerprints on TV and computer screens.

• The crib mattress after the baby, who had nothing to drink after 6 p.m. and went to bed in a nice, dry diaper, managed to unleash a torrent of tee-tee during her sleep.

• Various bodily fluids that have been projected from my children onto my clothing.

• Mud on my shoes from walking across the front yard to discover that my 7-year-old had left the garden hose running for the better part of a week.

• Assorted substances that have been spilled, smashed, or ground into the carpet.

• A black mark high on a living room wall from one of my shoes. (Please don’t ask.)

• Dried baby snot. The stickiest substance on earth. “409” can’t even get that.

• My then-4-year-old’s hair, clothes and the upholstery of our friend’s vehicle after said 4-year-old threw up on the interstate in Colorado and the only building for miles around was a truck stop, where I had to give her a bath in the restroom sink.

Do you see what I mean? Baby wipes are like sanity-in-a-box for me. How they can make these things so powerful, yet safe enough to put on a baby’s bottom, is beyond me.

And there’s such a variety of wipes out there. You can buy the ultra-cheap ones that feel more like wet toilet paper. Or you can splurge on the ones that contain aloe, shea butter and Vitamin E to help “make softness one of your newborn’s first discoveries,” offers the Huggies Web site.

I even found a web site featuring recipes for making your own baby wipes. I think the site is run by a bunch of hippie moms because the ingredients call for things like lavender, tea tree oil and calendula flowers. But hey, whatever works.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that taking cleaning tips from me is like taking a gun safety course from Dick Cheney. Or “Proper Infant Car Seat Use” from Britney Spears. Or getting marriage counseling in Hollywood.

Well, my house may not be immaculate, but I’m seven years into this Mommy thing and, believe me, I know how to clean up a mess on the fly.

And on the floor. And on the walls, ceilings, light fixtures ...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fill My Cup

This weekend I went on our church's Ladies Retreat with 30 or so women. We stayed at the Victorian Condo Hotel in Galveston. I roomed with Lesa, Paige and Janette. Our church has been having these for three years but due to pregnancy-related illness (2004) and breastfeeding (2005), this was the first year I got to go. We had a great guest speaker, Sandra Harbour, from Southeast CoC in Houston.

Here are some highlights from the weekend:

- Nearly freezing to death in Galveston. (When it's cold and windy there, it's REALLY cold and windy.)
- Going with Paige and Lesa to IHOP at 10:30 Friday night.
- Me asking our waiter "Are you from Texas?" and him replying -- "No, I'm from Russia" in a heavy Russian accent.
- Me having the honor of corrupting a group of women by introducing them to Bunco.
- A marathon game of Trival Pursuit -- Music Edition, with Wendy Schwartz and me against Emily Griffin and Paige. The game went on and on and at one point, Wendy called it a "downward spiral of death."
- Listening to Emily play her guitar and sing. She's a gifted musician and plays at several different venues around here. I got to write a feature about her for our newspaper a couple of years ago. She's a fascinating person and I'm glad I got to spend some time with her.
- Driving a van load of women to Galveston and back. It wasn't a whole lot different than driving the teens around ("Can we stop at Sonic?"), except they didn't leave a mess in the van.
- Spending time with women who I think so highly of but don't get to see much of because of our families, jobs, etc.

Now I just want to go back there with Chad. When it's a tad bit warmer. Making out on the beach isn't all it's cracked up to be when you're having to fight off hypothermia.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mess of the Day

Wouldn't it be nice if they made glass baking pans like safety glass in cars so that when it was dropped by, say, a 17-month-old, it wouldn't shatter into a jillion tiny glass shards all over the kitchen floor?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I love technology... always and forever

I still can't view my comments from yesterday. I'm going to post this and see if it helps.

And Target lovers -- pick up your "Red Cart Romance" T-shirt right here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ad Madness

Here's this week's column. I mention Wanda Garner Cash at the end -- she's the editor/publisher of The Baytown Sun.

NOTE -- On my browser, the link to post comments isn't showing up. I don't know why and I don't have time to sit here and mess with it.


By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published February 8, 2006

Are you a zero boundaries woman?

If so, the Diet Rite soda company wants to give you $25,000. For having no boundaries.

That’s right. You can go to and nominate a woman who has no boundaries.

If you think this sounds weird, you’re not alone. It sounds like someone in Diet Rite’s marketing department needs a vacation.

First of all, Diet Rite itself tastes like carbonated sewer water.

Second, and this is going to sound very Dr. Phil of me, but I believe boundaries are a good thing to have.

Back in 1992, when I was trying to get through college, be the managing editor of the campus newspaper, plan a wedding and deal with my then-fiance’s sister’s tragic death, I did what anyone in my situation would have done.

I landed myself in therapy.

And I learned a whole lot about boundaries. About how you can’t be everything to everyone all the time. About how having boundaries is a way to protect yourself and stay emotionally healthy.

Women with no boundaries don’t need $25,000, unless they are going to spend it on a shrink.

Oh, and also at Diet Rite’s Web site, you can sign up to win free carbonated sewer water — oops, I mean Diet Rite — for a year. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

Diet Rite’s current marketing campaign is a good example of how advertising can be a hit-or-miss endeavor. Here are some other companies that may have missed the mark with their slogans:

• Holiday Inn. About 12 years ago, their slogan was “Stay With Someone You Know.” That’s right. Stay with friends. Stay with family. Stay with your crazy great-aunt Velma. But whatever you do, don’t stay at Holiday Inn.

• Campbell’s Soup. For ages, Campbell’s Soup was “Mmm Mmm Good!” I think that if most of the words in your slogan are not actual words, you might want to rethink it.

• Red Bull Energy Drink. This caffeine-laden beverage says it “Gives You Wings!” Seriously. Unless you’re ready for a career as a circus freak, you might consider avoiding Red Bull and any other product promising to grow you new body parts.

Maybe these companies just need a little help. Thanks to Kyle Martin, I have learned of “The Advertising Slogan Generator,” a Web site that will come up with slogans for any word or phrase you type in.

Here are some examples for “Deana”:

“Pure Deana.”

“Deana is job 1.”

“I’m Not Just the Deana, I’m Also a Member.”

The fun at this Web site is endless. Why not get some family members in it? What about your crazy great-aunt Velma?

“Choosy Mothers Choose Your Crazy Great-Aunt Velma.”

And why stop at family? What about that creepy guy who works at the gas station?

“Reach Out and Touch That Creepy Guy Who Works at the Gas Station.”

“Don’t Leave Home Without That Creepy Guy Who Works at the Gas Station.”

And last, but not least:

“Is It Live? Or Is It Wanda Garner Cash?”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jazz Organ Greats

If you want to learn a whole lot about a music genre you may not know much about, check out my brother Brian's blog. In honor of Black History Month, he is highlighting some of the pioneers and legends of jazz organ. One of them is Jimmy Smith . Brian has a cool story about when he met Jimmy Smith. Brian is also a jazz organist with his own band, NeoTrio.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Mortifying Moments of My Life

I'm starting a new series about really embarrassing moments of my life. I'm sure I'll regret this eventually.

Mortifying Moment #1:

This was a few years ago at Julia's fourth birthday party. The husband of a friend of mine had brought their two girls. His name is Tommy. He had never really been around Chad and me since it was usually me hanging out with Tommy's wife Jennifer. Anyway, I hadn't had the chance to introduce Tommy and Chad. For some reason, Tommy thought Chad was my brother (this was not the first time someone had made that mistake). I jumped in and said, "Oh, no -- he's my husband." Of course, there was NO NEED TO CONTINUE, but I did. "I guess he could be both," I said. "But we're not from Arkansas." Tommy looked at me without smiling at all and said, "Oh, well, I am."

Yes, Tommy grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Tommy is now good friends with Chad and me. (His wife Jennifer died of cancer in 2004.) Our girls spend a lot of time with each other and a lot of nights at each others' houses. I asked Tommy about the "Arkansas Incident" a while back and he laughed. "It was great, watching you squirm," he said.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Four things...

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Freelance writer
2. Coordinator of alumni activities at ACU
3. Phone/bulletin/Mike Cope expert at Highland Church of Christ
4. Copy editor at the Bryan-College Station Eagle... worst job EVER!

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. Napoleon Dynamite
2. Princess Diaries II
3. Narnia
4. Freaky Friday (either one)

Four books I could read over & over:
1. Any of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Love Me by Garrison Keillor
4. Anything else by Garrison Keillor

Four places you have lived:
1. Beaumont, TX
2. Lovington, NM
3. Abilene, TX
4. College Station, TX

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
2. Desperate Housewives
3. Oprah (I can admit it now)
4. David Letterman

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Breckenridge, CO
2. Crystal Beach, TX
3. Kenai, Nikiski, Seward, Homer, and Anchorage, Alaska
4. South Padre Island, TX

Four web sites I visit daily:
1. Slave to Target
2. The Baytown Sun
3. My blog
4. Other blogs

Four of my favorite foods:
1. spaghetti
2. Chinese anything
3. Girl Scout cookies
4. veggies

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. the beach
2. a mall that's not Baytown's
3. Target
4. just out of this dang house

Four friends I am tagging:
1. Chad
2. Brian
3. Michelle
4. Paige
... and anyone who wants to!

My day so far

By 8:30 this morning, these things had happened:

Jenna had thrown her cup down from her high chair, and before I noticed it, milk had poured out of her cup into the dark abyss under the refrigerator.

Jenna grabbed Julia's medicine cup, which still had a little in it, and flung sticky, pink droplets all over the carpet.

Julia took one sip of her bright blue Go-Gurt smoothie yesterday and threw it away. This morning, Jenna grabbed it out of the trash and went gleefully running around the dining room, shaking bright blue glops of smoothie onto the carpet. (At this point, I yelled, causing Jenna to cry and Julia -- still home sick from school -- to console her, saying "Did Mommy scare you?")

A few moments later, Jenna came running through the dining room clutching a piece of pizza from yesterday, also dug out of the trash. (Causing Julia to screech "JENNA CAROL!" Ha! Who's yelling now?) Now there's pizza sauce all over her pale yellow sleeper, and I don't know that she didn't take a few bites.

Now she's poopy and I don't care. At least that mess is contained.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Home, sweet home

There is a sign in/sign out sheet in the office at Julia's school. If you could see the sheet today, you would see Julia's name, then in the "sign out" column you would see "8:01." Her school starts at 8. That's how long it took her to realize she really didn't feel like coming back to school today. I told her she has to spend the day actually resting -- in bed. I have medicine with codeine in it to help with this.

At least Jenna went to school today. I have just changed her registration from one day a week to two. With Julia, I had massive guilt about doing that. I sort of thought that stay-at-home moms were supposed to STAY AT HOME with their kids. It took me a year to past that so I could sign Julia up for two days. With Jenna, it took three weeks. Go figure.

All this time at home has given us ample opportunity to play the Nancy Drew computer game Julia got for Christmas. Has anyone else tried any of these? They're fun -- and really hard. Julia and I are playing separate games and I kept noticing how much more difficult her game was than mine. "Maybe the game thinks I'm smarter than you are," she said. Turns out she had accidentally selected "senior detective" instead of "junior detective," which is the level I'm playing on. OK, the game is for 10 and up but I'm telling you, it's hard! Last night I made progress, though. I found the secret tunnel!

I nearly started salivating over these jeans at Target yesterday. (Maybe if I had, they would have let me have them at a discount.) They're already faded and have little ripped-up places on them. They're part of the Luella line that they have brought in after phasing out Fiorucci. (Target is doing 90-day rotations of clothes from different designers. I know this from my friends at Slave to Target.) Back to the jeans. Wouldn't I look great in them, Chad? Huh? Wouldn't I?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Looking forward to a sick day

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published February 1, 2006

I got one of those calls the other day.

You know, the “school-nurse-with-the-chipper-voice” call.

“I’m calling about Julia,” she said. “She has a fever and needs to go home.”

So Julia came home. It was just a low-grade fever, so it wasn’t anything life-threatening. I gave her some Tylenol and orange juice (the proper Mom thing to do) and she settled in at the computer to play games.

It got me thinking about the glory of staying home sick from school when I was a kid.

As long as I wasn’t too sick, I rather enjoyed a day off once in a while.

But sick days were not easy to come by. My mother was a teacher and didn’t put up with much whining about wanting to stay home.

But my brother and I had two potential trump cards. If we could throw up, or somehow convince my mom that we had pink eye, we had a free ticket to a day of lying around and watching TV.

There were some self-imposed ground rules. We had to remember to not have too much fun. And we had to produce a cough within Mom’s earshot every once in a while.

If I actually did throw up, my mom made me drink 7-Up. I’m not sure why. All I know is that to this day, I can’t stand 7-Up. It makes me feel like I’ve just thrown up.

7-Up notwithstanding, I kinda miss those days. For moms, convalescing in peace is a thing of the past. Fever? Aches? Major organs rupturing? It doesn’t matter. Moms can’t take days off.

Except for when we give birth. When I was in the hospital after having each of my children, I was in no hurry to leave. Why? Because I had a room all to myself. That had a bed in it. With really cool controls. And a TV and a remote. Not to mention the nurses who brought me food when I was hungry and took my baby away when I wanted to sleep. Those same nurses had access to morphine, Vicodin, and other yummy hallucinogens.

My only job was pretty much to stay in bed. Believe me, I’ve had worse days. Julia knows how to enjoy a day off, too. She spent her sick day eating Hello Kitty Pop-Tarts and playing “Zoo Tycoon 2,” a game where you get to build and manage your own zoo. (She’s particularly fond of letting the tigers out of their cage so they can chase down terrified zoo visitors. Then this alert flashes across the screen: “ZOO GUEST 32 HAS JUST BEEN EATEN.”)

That night, we gave Julia more Tylenol, tucked her into bed and let her fall asleep to an Enya CD. I have a feeling she’s had worse days, too.

I have big plans for when both our children have grown up. I’m going to drop the youngest one off at a college campus somewhere, come home, get in bed with a bowl of chicken soup and watch trashy talk shows for days. Whether I’m sick or not.

I will have earned it by then.