Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Weekend that Wasn't

Here's how my weekend was supposed to go:

1) Chad, the girls and I were supposed to go to Camp Wyldwood, near Searcy, for our youth group's winter retreat.

2) We were going to come home Sunday, pack up like crazy people and move some things into the house before the REAL moving day, which is Monday.

Here's what really happened this weekend:

1) Chad went on the retreat without us,

2) Because I came down with a bladder infection

3) And the stomach flu that's going around

4) And some other ailments you probably don't want to know about.

Friday and yesterday were just awful. Because of some members of the wonderful church family we have here, Jenna was off my hands last night and today, I have been supplied with drugs and more childcare.

And ice from Sonic.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Little Church-Owned Houses... for You and Me

We closed on the house this morning! On the way to the title company, Chad and I were talking about the different houses we lived in growing up. So I decided to blog about mine.

Birch Street, Lovington, New Mexico: We lived here from when I was born until just after my 3rd birthday. I was little, but I remember a lot about the house. I remember the dark blue carpet and the way the house was laid out with the living room in the front, the kitchen behind it and the bedrooms down a hallway to the right. I remember watching Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights while my mom rolled my hair up in those pink sponge curlers. I remember my brother Brian breaking his arm in the front yard. I remember running around the backyard with Snoopy, our puppy.

Highland Street, Hobbs, New Mexico: My dad got a youth minister job at Taylor St. Church of Christ, and that church had a parsonage. It was one of the nicest houses we ever lived in, and the only four-bedroom house we had. Brian and I were big fans of The Brady Bunch at the time, and I remember thinking that if we had an Alice, she could live in the extra bedroom. I was three and four when we lived there.

700 Trailing Heart, Roswell, New Mexico: We never knew what "Trailing Heart" meant, but this house was cool. It was the parsonage owned by Country Club Road Church of Christ, where my dad was the youth minister. The church building was fairly new, and for some reason the elders were afraid the youth group was going to tear it up. So the church paid to turn our double garage into a giant activity room so the teens would hang out there instead of the church building. It was awesome. It was carpeted and had a (8-track!) stereo and a ton of games. On the last day of school that year, my kindergarten class took a field trip to the park that was right across the street from our house. It started pouring down rain and as the class was running for the bus, I told our teacher that we could just go over to my house. "Are you sure that's OK?" she asked. I assured her that it was, and you can imagine my mom's horror when my entire kindergarten class showed up unannounced at the front door. We had fun though -- sitting in a circle in the big room playing Duck, Duck, Goose.

2713 Carol, Big Spring, Texas: We moved to Big Spring so my dad could be the youth minister at 14th and Main Church of Christ. The church had a parsonage on Cindy Lane, but it needed some work so the church rented us a house on Carol Street until the other house was ready. Apparently, the rent house also needed some work and the elders' wives who met us at the house the day we moved were horrified at the condition it was in. I didn't notice, though. The house was huge and I could make a full circle in it on my Big Wheel.

2502 Cindy Lane, Big Spring, Texas: Finally the house was ready and we moved over to Cindy during my 2nd grade year. I loved this house, too. It had fluffy yellow carpet and my best friend lived one street over. When we moved away in the middle of 3rd grade, I missed this house more than any of the other houses.

103 North 3rd St, Lovington, New Mexico: Yep, back to Lovington so my dad could be the YM at 3rd and Central Church of Christ for the second time. We lived in the parsonage right across the street from the church. There was a separate building in our backyard where the teens met for class on Sunday mornings. So my dad walked out the back door across the backyard every Sunday morning to teach class. This was a small house, but we liked it. I remember watching Dallas on Friday nights with my mom in the living room, and feeling very modern because we were now living in the 1980s.

805 West Gore, Lovington, New Mexico: This was the other house the church owned. The preacher and his family had been living in it, but they built a house and moved, leaving the Gore Street house open for us. This was another nice house. I lived there for 4th, 5th and 6th grade. Over the years, I've met several other children of former ministers from 3rd and Central who lived in this house. One had found where I had written "DEANA WAS HERE" in my closet and he said for years he had wondered who Deana was every morning as he was picking out his clothes.

4060 Redwood Drive, Beaumont, Texas: Ridgewood Church of Christ in Beaumont had no parsonage, so for the first time in 12 years, we bought a house. Beaumont was my dad's hometown and we moved in right down the street from his parents/my grandparents. This was the house that I felt the most at home in. I moved in as an 11-year-old kid and moved out as a 22-year-old married woman. After Brian left for college, I moved into his room where I had my own bathroom. This was especially handy for the nights my boyfriend sneaked up to the house so we could kiss through my bathroom window. My parents moved to Houston in 1994, and Chad and I made one more trip to Beaumont to get my last bit of stuff from the house. I cried when we drove away.

Chad and I have lived in eight apartments/houses/townhouses since we got married in 1993. Our realtor just came by and gave me the keys for the house we closed on today. Hopefully it will be the last house on my list for a long while.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trespassing Revisited

Back to the new house today to play in the yard. Chad stayed home this time. He was we needed someone to bail us out in case we got arrested.

Here is how we usually see Jenna -- a blond-haired blur.

Julia in front of what will be her bedroom window.

Jenna and her new bedroom window.

"Julia, it's the cops! Don't take their picture... RUN!"

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Expert Cheese-Opener

I just signed up for the new version of Blogger and went to make a new post and found that TEN comments were awaiting moderation. Some of these were from a year ago. I had no idea. So if you ever commented here and it never showed up, your comment was not offensive. I was just clueless.

Today I took Julia, Jenna and Julia's friend Addie to Barnes & Noble. (Shameless plug: Check out the Silpada Jewelry issue of Empowering Women magazine -- I've got three articles in there. My friend Sarah Paulk has stuff in there, too.) Anyway, an older man came up to me and said, "That younger one of yours sure is a handful." Really? I had no idea. I've been with Jenna for most of her waking moments since August 26, 2004, and it had never occurred to me that she might be a little difficult to manage. Thank you, observant stranger!

We close on our house this Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and we are so excited we can hardly stand it. Julia wants us to take her out of school for it. Thank you for all the suggestions about the hardwood floors -- the info helps a lot. Here's another question. See those little tiny drawers on either side of the stove in our new kitchen? What am I supposed to put in those things? Here are my ideas so far:

1) toothpicks
2) Slim Jims
3) Pixy Stix

Here's a conversation I had last Wednesday night over dinner (hamburgers) with 5-year-old Kayla from our church.

Kayla: (handing me her slice of cheese) Can you open my cheese?
Deana: Of course I can. I just so happen to be an expert cheese-opener.
Kayla: (eyes very wide and serious) You ARE???

Oh, and don't worry. I had a Boca.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Chad and Deana Story

I posted this on my blog a long time ago and I'm resurrecting it in honor of Valentine's Day. And because I like talking about how great my husband 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.

In happy, fun dating relationships, horrible things aren’t supposed to happen. But the worst thing in the world happened to us. 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 as soon as I was done 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.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The family that trespasses together...

Saturday...nothing to do... Hey! I know! Let's go hang out in the backyard of our new house! So we did. The reason we were hanging out in the backyard is because we don't close until the 21st so it's not exactly ours yet. But it's vacant, so...what the hey?

"It's locked! Dang it!"

Someday, we'll actually be able to go inside instead of sitting on the back patio like transients.

Trespassers "R" Us!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

What Wood You Do?

I'm in Stage II of taking back my house. I got a lot done yesterday with the help of Chad, laundry-folder extraordinaire.

We're praying for Julia's friend Addie today, and you can join us if you want to. Addie is eight and has developed some potentially serious health problems and has begun a series of tests this week. We're praying that nothing is seriously wrong and for Addie to get back to the fun of being a kid soon.

On another note, even if you're not an Oprah fan, you might consider tuning in today. The sister-in-law of Mike Cope will be on talking about Touch a Life Ministries, the ministry she and her husband began to get children out of slavery in other countries. This wonderful new Blogger isn't letting me do links, so their website is And Mike's blog is

On a completely frivolous note compared to Addie and Touch a Life, I need your help. I'm about to become the owner of hardwood floors and I don't know how to take care of them. After asking around a bit, I've been told:

1) It's so easy,
2) It's unbelievably complicated.

So please tell me, if you have wood floors, how do you take care of them? Here's a pic of the floor in our new house:

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mrs. Clean

I've had so much work lately that I've haven't been able to spend much time on the house. I'm hosting a CAbi party for a friend over here on Sunday, so I've set aside today to wage a domestic war.

I'm not sure what Jenna does in her room, but it must be fun.

I was low on cleaning supplies, so Jenna and I stopped by Target on our way to her school. She also got some shoes. Hey, one of us had to buy something fun.

I'm hoping to post some "after" pictures later today.


I am all that. Oh yes, I am.

Too bad Jenna will have to live in the car until Sunday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Not Too Late

I'll never forget where I was the first time I heard Norah Jones. I was driving down Decker Drive in Baytown early in 2002 when "Don't Know Why" came on the radio. The song was only into a few bars when I thought, "I don't know who this is, but I love her. I will buy every CD she puts out."

And so far, I have. Yesterday I scored her new CD, "Not Too Late." I've only been able to listen to it driving back and forth to Jenna's school this morning (one thing I get back when we move into our new house is my greatly-missed under-the-cabinet kitchen stereo), but I'm loving it so far. Norah, a fellow Texas girl, even got interestingly political with "My Dear Country." (Not to be confused with the old Barney song of the same name.)

I'll try to describe what Norah's music is like to me. You know how you go to Starbucks on a cold day and get your hot drink of choice and as the perfect blend of sweetness and warmth glides across your tongue and hits the back of your throat, you think -- no matter what's going on in your life at that time -- that just for that moment, all is right with the world? That's how my ears feel when I listen to Norah's voice. Stevie Ray Vaughan's music has a similar effect.

At the Grammys the year after Norah's debut album (Come Away with Me) came out, she won 8 Grammy awards -- so many that she started getting embarrassed when they kept calling her name. "It was like going to a birthday party and eating all the cake before anyone else got a chance to have any," she said. Well, Norah, that's what you get for being so dang talented.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pray for me.

We are so excited about our new house we've all been peeing in our pants. And for one of us, that's no exaggeration. Here's Jenna in what will be her bedroom.

Please pray for me this morning. I'm taking Jenna to the grocery store for the first time in months.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Julia's Birthday: A Retrospective

Julia's birthday party was today, even though her birthday was technically Jan. 19. Apparently the Benton Skate Center is a pretty popular birthday place so you have to schedule way in advance.

But before we get to today's celebration, let's look back on some of Julia's past birthdays.

This was Julia's 5th birthday. We had the party at Lakewood Church of Christ in Baytown. (The Lakewood building was a lot more fun for birthday parties than our own church building.) In this picture, my mom is giving Julia a bracelet she had received from her parents on her 5th birthday in 1950. Other things going on with us at the time: Chad ran in the Houston half-marathon the day after this party. I was newly pregnant with Jenna and running/driving around to all the checkpoints to cheer Chad on. The nausea was just setting in and I carried a box of crackers with me the whole way.

Here we are at Moody Gardens in Galveston for Julia's 6th birthday. The girl next to Julia is Matney, who had been Julia's best preschool friend. This was the year we told Julia she could either have the usual party and invite everyone or take one friend to Moody Gardens. She chose to take Matney to Moody Gardens. It was fun. Moody Gardens has lots of cool stuff like a penguin exhibit and a huge aquarium with all kinds of ocean life. Julia was at the peak of her "all-things-ocean" phase so this was a perfect birthday for her. And look at little baby Jenna!

Yep, we had a skating party last year, too. Baytown has an old skating rink that has not been updated in any way since 1950-something. The floors are wooden and torn-up and the only way to play music is on an old scratchy turntable. As run-down as this may sound, birthday parties there are a blast. This was the day Julia received that scooter and she's been scooting around on it ever since. It's probably her most favorite birthday present ever. Oh -- and look how much she grew up between 6 and 7!

Now she's eight and still riding the scooter. Today's party was the first with all of our new Arkansas friends. Oh -- thanks to everyone for the Hannah Montana party suggestions. We ended up letting the kids skate around to the Hannah Montana CD and instead of "Happy Birthday, Julia," the cake said "Pump Up the Party, Julia!" (Hannah fans will know what that means.)

Friday, February 02, 2007

What's that white stuff?

It finally snowed here. I mean REALLY snowed. Julia didn't have school today -- her first snow day ever. I would post pictures, but the Law of the Nall DigiCam is in place. (When we don't need it, it's here. When a rare event occurs that we would really like to take pictures of, it's 15 miles away in Chad's office.)

So you'll just have to take our word for it that we did get out of bed and without eating breakfast or even getting properly dressed for the weather, ran out and played in the snow. We threw snow, ate snow and even made the girls' first snowman (which turned out to be just a snow head, which was later stolen by neighborhood boys. Julia reconstructed it to the best of her ability.)

It was fun but I kept thinking about our soon-to-be house, which is sitting a mile or so away vacant with a big backyard full of snow. Hopefully we'll get a good snow next year, too. We don't technically have a yard here.

Tonight is Julia's friend's birthday party and tomorrow is Julia's birthday party. Chad and I decided to make her a cake. I'll post pictures if the results aren't too horrifying.