Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten years

I'm still really sad about this.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Note to self:

When I am elderly and haven't had to take a small child to the grocery store in decades, and I see a mother chasing a crazed toddler through the produce section, I will not approach the mother and scold her for leaving her purse unattended. Especially if said toddler has just grabbed a carton of eggs, opened it, and thrown it upside-down into the grocery cart.

Just a thought that occurred to me today.


Monday, August 27, 2007

The History of Jenna

August 26, 2004 (in the arms of her Paw Paw.)

August 26, 2005

August 26, 2006

August 26, 2007

Those last three pictures were in three different Nall houses. Hopefully Jenna is done moving for a while. We had a great party Saturday in the backyard -- pictures coming later!

Speaking of birthdays, we were at a very nice restaurant in downtown Little Rock last night for a friend's party and I managed to set a menu on fire.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blue Eyes

"Blue eyes, my baby's got blue eyes. Like a deep blue sea on a blue, blue day." -- from "Blue Eyes" by Elton John

Jenna was born three years ago tomorrow. Eight-and-a-half pounds. A golden sheen to her head that promised blond hair. Blue eyes.

At least I tell people they're blue. There really isn't a word to describe the color of her eyes.

But I'll try.

I learned to scuba dive in 1993. And I learned something about it right off: scuba diving is a big hassle. So much heavy, awkward equipment is required for breathing underwater. The tank by itself weighs 80 pounds. Then there's the weight belt, which must be adjusted just right so you won't float to the surface or be stuck on the ocean floor. Then you have the BCD, the fins, snorkel, mask and wetsuit -- if the water you're diving in is going to be cold.

But once below the surface, the oppressive gear becomes your key to the underwater world. You swim around weightless, holding out fingers as curious fish swim up to them. Your teeth clench around the regulator that, on land moments before, was uncomfortable in your mouth. Now it's the only way to get air into your lungs. The sound of your constant inhaling and exhaling is a reminder that you're doing something humans weren't made to do. You are living, thriving, underwater. The hassle, for the moment, is forgotten.

It took us a long time to get Jenna into this world. I got pregnant, then miscarried. Pregnant again, then blood one morning. Pregnant a third time, but then more blood. We started thinking adoption. Then I got pregnant again, and this one held. I got very sick, was placed on home healthcare, and then developed gestational diabetes. Then, one Thursday morning, the previous year-and-a-half faded as I finally looked into her eyes.

And I remembered the circle of light.

Thirty feet under the ocean's surface, it's easy to become disoriented -- to the point that you can lose track of which way you're supposed to go to reach air. As a scuba diver, you learn to look for light. Light means surface. When you find the sunlight piercing the blue mass in which you are submerged, you slowly swim toward it, exhaling all the way. Surrounded by varying shades of watery blue, the circle of light expands and seems to pull you toward itself. You keep swimming up, up, up -- until you think your lungs can't expel any more air. But the bubbles keep coming from your mouth, and you keep moving toward the light.

Then you reach it and you burst through it into air, light, life.

That's what color Jenna's eyes are.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

We have a third-grader!


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Buh-bye, Bat Boy

OK, OK. Sorry my Bat Boy picture was scaring people. To be honest, it was beginning to scare me, too.

I'll bump it on down the page with a True Confession, since I haven't done one in a while.

(ahem) I'm really, really into "The Hills" on MTV.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


I consider myself a mainstream journalist who embraces journalistic ethics. Having said that, I'm kinda sad about the demise of the Weekly World News.

How many mundane grocery-shopping trips have been brightened in the checkout by headlines such as "ALIENS ATE MY LAUNDRY" and "SADDAM HUSSEIN AND BIGFOOT HAVE LOVECHILD"? This is the same publication that found hell under a mountain in Russia, as well as a time-warped baby floating around in the Atlantic in a Titanic life preserver. The Weekly World News was also "the paper" upon which Mike Myers' mother relied for her only source of information in "So I Married an Axe Murderer."

The Weekly World News was either journalism at its worst, or cultural satire at its best.

Rest in peace, Bat Boy. We hardly knew you.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fourteen years

Fourteen years ago this morning, I was at my parents' house in Beaumont, Texas. I was sleeping off the previous night's festivities and my mom was getting ready for the brunch we were hosting at our house. After the brunch, we ran some errands, I got my hair done, we ran more errands, then went to the church. That evening, I married my best friend.

That was a good day. We've had many good days since then. I've always believed your wedding day should not be the happiest day of your life, because then it's only downhill from there. You want the days to only get better and better. And for us, it has. I think we like each other more than we did in 1993. Maturity helps a lot with that. And I've been able to discover what a great father Chad is. And what a passion he has for ministry. One of the cool things about getting married is that you keep finding new things to love about your spouse over the years.

Just for fun - if you were at our wedding, post a comment! (Of course you can post if you weren't there, too.)

A couple of years ago, I wrote the story of Chad and me. Here it is:

I met Chad in the Bean at ACU one day at lunch. I was with a big group of people and we were sitting at a large round table. Chad was the only person I didn’t know and we ended up sitting right next to each other. He was from Alaska, he said.

Chad was a freshman, and I was a sophomore. He was kinda cute – all my friends said so – and he seemed like a nice guy. We tried to date for a couple of weeks, but it just wasn’t working for me. I was trying to take a break from dating. I had made several bad dating choices in a row and had decided to give that part of my life up to God, since I had made such a mess of it. I promised God I wouldn’t date anyone seriously for a year.

Plus Chad got on my nerves.

He was so nice. Really, he was. But he seemed to be trying too hard. I started avoiding him.

A school year went by. Then a summer. Then school started again. And there was Chad. Would I like to go out Friday night? Sure. OK.

I remember sitting on the couch with my roommate. “Aren’t you going to get ready for your date?” she asked. “It’s just Chad,” I replied.

Then we went out. We had a great time. I liked being with him. He smelled good. So we kept going out. We kissed. His arms felt good around me. They felt right around me.

“You know what I was thinking?” I said one night after we had been dating about three weeks. “I was thinking that I don’t want to date anyone but you.”

And that was it. We were a couple.

That year was fun. I was dating Chad, living with two of my best friends and working as a reporter for the campus newspaper. He came home with me for Thanksgiving and spring break. We had fun together. We kissed. A lot.

We had to be apart for that summer, while he went home to Alaska to work. In August, I flew up there to see the sights and hang out with Chad and his family for a couple of weeks. Chad, his sister Gina and I were all supposed to come back to Abilene together.

But then the unthinkable happened. While I was in Alaska, Chad’s sister Gina was in a car accident. I was standing in Chad’s parents’ kitchen when they got the call from the highway department. She was in ICU for two days before she died. What a nightmare. My head still gets swimmy when I think about those awful days. Did all of it really happen? Of course it did, but it’s still so hard to fathom. She was 19. She and Chad were only 11 months apart.

We went back to school without Gina – shattered over the loss that was too great for Chad to even talk to me about. It’s hard for me to write about this time because I don’t remember much. My brain has shut it out. I do remember crying in the shower every morning for months.

Then something happy happened. We got engaged. It was a relief to have a wedding to focus on instead of our grief. We got married on Aug. 14, 1993.

That was 12 years ago. A major career change, two kids and three miscarriages later, we’re still here. Chad is my best friend – the “other side of me,” as Michael W. Smith sings. He knows what I need when I’m too proud to voice it. He knows when I need a break from the kids. He washes dishes. He changes diapers. One morning, when Chad had gotten up early and our oldest daughter Julia had climbed into bed with me, I heard Chad in the next room, having his morning quiet time and whispering an earnest prayer. For me. How loved and protected I felt, hearing a great man of God lift me up in prayer.

Marriage isn’t always fun, they tell you in premarital counseling. And it’s true. One of the worst moments of my life was when Chad was holding me in our bathroom three years ago. I was losing our second child and it hurt – physically, emotionally – it was excruciating. But Chad was there, his arms still so strong around me.

The good times in a marriage are fun and make good memories. But the hard times are the ones that really solidify your relationship. That’s when those vows really mean something. It’s when you have the chance to truly cherish each other.

I’ve been asked when I knew I was in love with Chad. I’m not really sure. Love changes and deepens over the years until you’re not sure what “love” really meant when you said it early in your relationship. But I do have one memory. We weren’t really dating yet, but I was aware that Chad was not getting on my nerves anymore. I had to help with newspaper distribution after Chapel one day, but rushed back into the coliseum because I wanted to find Chad. He wasn’t there. I was so disappointed that it surprised me. I stood there, in the emptying coliseum, suddenly shockingly aware that if I kept running away from this guy, I could lose him forever. That’s when I knew that I always wanted him to be there.

And he is. And we still kiss. A lot.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Keep your pants on

I asked Julia to bring the mail in today so she hands it to me and says, "Hey, it's Zac Efron!" Zac is the star of High School Musical 2, which makes its debut this weekend on Disney. So he is on the minds and hearts of every girl Julia's age and several years younger and older.

Back to the mail. It's the latest issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine with Zac on the cover.

Was I impressed by this? No, Zac, as a matter of fact, I wasn't. My 8-year-old is watching you. Keep your clothes on.

The only reason we're getting Rolling Stone is because Chad inadvertently signed up for a subscription online while trying to sign up for something else. (That's really true -- Chad couldn't care less about what's going on in the world of rock 'n' roll.) I used to be a big fan of the magazine. In 9th grade, I rebelled against the pop music of the mid-'80s, sold my soul to rock 'n' roll and bought every issue of Rolling Stone that year. The writing has always been exceptional. One article I read that year about John Phillips' (The Mamas and the Papas) drug addiction convinced me to never, ever do drugs, and I still never have.

Twenty-plus years later, we've got children in the house. So, sorry, Rolling Stone, you're outta here.

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Friday, August 10, 2007


Hey, parents!

Concerned about rising college costs? Worried you can't afford to send your daughter to college?

How would you like a toy that will teach your girls how to make a great salary without going to college -- or even graduating from high school?

Introducing Prostitute Barbie! Complete with a micro-mini, fishnet hose and genuine hooker boots! She's just the role model your daughters need.

Pick one up today! At a street corner near you.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Under a spell

I know I gripe about this stuff a lot, but I just have to wonder once again why so many people out there don't know the basics of the English language.

Julia and I are going to enter some things in the Saline County Fair and I was reading through the rules and regulations book. The typos are so thick I can barely get through it. I know, I know, rural Arkansas and all that. But STILL. Do they really have a "scrape booking" competition? Can I really enter "crapes" in the fruit competition? Are they really going to be judged by "Master Gardner's?" And can I please, please enter the "beauty pagent?"

If anyone should know "herd" is not spelled "heard," it should be the Saline County Fair Association of Benton, Arkansas. I'm assuming a spelling bee will not be part of the festivities. Maybe it should.

Anyway, my brownies are going to win.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

My birthday and stuff

Since I last blogged, I turned another year older. Chad and the girls brought me breakfast in bed Thursday (which had to be moved to the kitchen since Jenna was jumping on the bed). They gave me a big bag of Burt's Bees stuff, which Julia picked out. That night, Chad and I had a date planned at Carino's, but when we got there, a bunch of our friends from church were there to surprise me. So I had my second surprise party ever. (The first one was thrown by college roommates and friends in 1991 at the beginning of my junior year. That one was even more of a surprise since it was a full month after my actual birthday.) Anyway, we all had so much fun eating and talking without kids around that we stayed there for THREE HOURS. Plus my Myspace and Facebook profiles were flooded with well wishes from all over. If you absolutely have to turn 36, this was a fun way to do it.

We went to Magic Springs Saturday, where it was CRAZY CROWDED. People we were with who've been going to MS their whole lives said they had never seen it that full of people. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 300 strangers in the wave people wasn't exactly my idea of fun. But the Third Day show that night rocked. Julia and I annoyed everyone around us by yelling "WE LOVE YOU, MAC!" between songs. Mac appeared to be ignoring us, but I think he was just playing hard to get. He did say the crowd was the biggest they had ever played for. And out of all those tens of thousands of people, Julia and her best friend from school just happened to find each other.

Question: If you've turned on a radio in the last month or so, you've heard Rihanna's "Umbrella." (You know, the song that goes "You can stand under my umbrella-ella-ella-EH-EH-EH...") We hear it on Radio Disney all the time, but a review in Rolling Stone magazine said the song means something really nasty. I'm just wondering if anyone knows because Julia and I rode home from Little Rock today singing it at the top of our lungs.

On another note, I thought this story about the piano John Lennon used to write "Imagine" was interesting.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cow huggers unite

A while back, Sarah, a fellow non-meat-eater, asked me how I let the world know that I went veggie and how I have handled people's reactions to my decision. I've been gathering my thoughts on this and I'll blog about it soon.

Well, we are all done traveling for the summer and school starts in just a few weeks. I've had a ton of work lately, which is always fun with both kids are home every day. Our last tiny little trip is this Saturday. We are going to Magic Springs, a theme park about 40 minutes from here, to play around and then hear Third Day in concert. I don't like much Christian music, to be honest, but I really, really like Third Day. And I sort of love Mac Powell, their lead singer.

Here's a quote from Jenna when we were coming home from Texas last week. She took her shoes off and said, "Hey! I found my feet!"

Speaking of Texas, I got to spend some time on Friday with Dr. Charlie Marler and his wife, Peggy. "Doc" was the chairman of the Journalism-Mass Communication Dept. while I was at ACU and he is still a hero to me. Any time my name appears in a byline in some publication, his name should be right next to it because he is the reason my writing is worthy to be printed. Some professors teach you how to do something, but professors like Doc teach you how to become something. He was never satisfied if his students were good at writing; he wanted us to be better than good. He taught us the power of words and to uphold truth above all else. Yes, they do actually teach that in journalism school.

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