Thursday, May 31, 2007

What do you do all day?

I don't know if Carolyn Hax has kids, but she gets it.

"It" being the stay-at-home mom thing.

Carolyn Hax writes an advice column -- kind of like "Dear Abby" with an attitude -- for the Washington Post. In her column that ran in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a reader asks the age-old question, complete with the expected suspicious and condescending tone, "What do stay-at-home moms do all day?"

Hax's response is ingenious. I think I love her.

I don't want to be guilty of copyright infringement or anything, so I'll have to refer you to the Washington Post's web site to read her column. You have to register, but it's free and only takes a second.

This got me to thinking about my pre-stay-at-home days. Did I ever think that moms who stayed home did nothing? That they were enjoying some sort of secret vacation that only other SAHMs where in on?

It's hard for me to remember back that far, but I do remember what it was like when Julia was a baby and I was still having to work. I knew being a mom of any kind was a lot of work. I don't remember wondering what SAHMs did all day, but, based on my experience, I knew what they DIDN'T do. They didn't, at 7:30 on cold and windy West Texas winter mornings, buckle their infants into a car seat and drive them to daycare in order to be at work by 8 a.m. They didn't hear about the first time their child stood up from a daycare worker. They didn't lock themselves in an office several times a day, knowing all their co-workers could hear the hum of the breast pump.

That stuff was not fun for me. What made it worse was that I really did want to be a stay-at-home mom. And I was secretly envious of the women who were. But Chad was still in grad school and someone had to make money for us to live on.

Then he graduated, got a job, we moved, and I finally got to be a SAHM. And it was the most difficult adjustment of my life. I went from structure to no structure, a sense of accomplishment at the end of each workday to a wrecked house, mountains of laundry and still being exhausted to the point of tears even though I wasn't sure what *I* had done all day. I went from having a reason to wear suits and a little nametag stating my job title to wearing the same pair of jeans and one of Chad's shirts just about every day. I just couldn't seem to get it together. One day, Chad came home to find me sobbing and picking up pieces of macaroni and cheese off the floor. When I told my BFF Carol about this, we decided to call those kinds of days "macaroni days." Those days when no one thing sets you off, but you feel yourself crumbling under the pressure of constantly being needed.

Which brings me back to Carolyn Hax. She hits the "constantly being needed" thing square on the head.

I think what the "Mommy Wars" issue comes down to is the fact that all of us moms want to feel as though what we are doing is important. And when some of us do that a different way than others, others of us can get bent out of shape. The truth is that it's all hard. Staying home, working outside the home, or -- the category I fit into now -- working at home, it's all really hard. So if someone doesn't get it, please don't ask what we do all day. Ask who we are all day. You'll get a better answer.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Jerry Views

My very cool friend Liane has a new blog so you should go check it out.

Her very cool step-daughter Liana (who is also a very cool member of our very cool youth group) has a blog, too. There's not much there yet, but keep checking back because Liana is an up-and-coming writer!

Liane and Liana sound like twins or something, but they're really step-mom and step-daughter. Cool, huh?

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Open Window

Does anyone know what's up with Johnny Depp's accent? I was watching an old episode of "21 Jump Street" today and back then, he sounded like a typical American guy. Now, and I'm talking about when he's not in some kind of character, he has this impossible-to-place accent that Americans tend to get when they spend too much time in Europe. You know, like the way Madonna sounds. I guess she forgot we all know she's from Detroit. And Johnny? He was born in Kentucky. Come on, Johnny. You're not fooling me. But I still think you're hot.

Last night, Julia's friend spent the night over here. Her friend's parents tend to be pretty protective and don't let her spend the night with just anyone. This morning, the friend's mom -- a good friend of mine -- came around 10:30 to pick up her daughter. When I answered the door, she said, "A boy is climbing into Julia's window." I went to Julia's room, opened the door, and there stood Julia, her friend, and the 5-year-old kid from across the street. "Hi, there. You need to go outside," I said. "I'm pretty sure it's OK if I'm in here," he said. I communicated something to the effect that it actually wasn't OK and he went outside. Julia has been opening her window lately and she said the boy was in our front yard, saw that it was open and just came on in. I'm just hoping Julia's friend's mom doesn't think Julia has boys climbing in and out of her window all the time. We showed Julia how to open her window and climb out a few weeks ago in case there's ever a fire. Now I'm thinking about painting it shut.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

As a Kite

Jenna climbed up on a chair the other day, stretched her arms up and said, "I'M HIGH!"

Meaning, "I'm tall."

At least I hope that's what she meant.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pinnacle Revisited

We went to Pinnacle Mountain yesterday and you can see a couple of pics of the girls on Chad's blog.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Two unrelated thoughts.

Thought #1) Here's part of a letter to the editor from someone in Fayetteville in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that I thought was interesting:

"If the only reason you live a 'moral' life and show compassion to orphaned children and suffering animals is because you have the promise of paradise or the threat of condemnation hanging over your head, then you really have no morals at all, save those forced upon you by the Bible."

BTW -- Chris Benjamin sighting in today's paper! He was quoted in an article about what churches are doing to welcome visitors. He's the pulpit minister at West Ark CoC in Fort Smith.

Thought #2) "I know why gas prices are so high. I think gas stations are trying to save up money to build clean bathrooms." -- comment by Julia Nall earlier today

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dining in Arkansas

Thanks to everyone for your concern and prayers about Jenna. We kept her on Tylenol a couple of days and she is back to her old self. Today I asked her how she felt and she said, "I feel sick." Since she said this while she was jumping on the couch, I didn't take much stock in it.

There's a restaurant on the interstate here called Brown's Country Store and Buffet or something like that. They sell coonskin caps. In fact, Brown's is pretty proud of their coonskin caps because they have a billboard and a huge sign out front advertising them. Personally, I don't want to eat at a place that sells coonskin caps. Because where's the rest of the raccoon? On the buffet? None for me, thanks.

In other news, Julia and I seem to have a similar sense of humor, and I realize this is not a good thing. Anyway, I was telling her the other day about when she was about three and really wanted to ride home in the car from our friend's house stark naked. (We didn't let her.) After I was telling her about this, we decided to make up a song about driving naked. I'm pretty proud of what we came up with, so I'm going to share it with you fine people.

(NOTE: I made up a second verse on my own and have not shared it with Julia because it contains a word that is *ahem* not allowed in our house.)

"Driving Naked"
(to the tune of "Oh, Susanna")

I've got my suitcase all packed up
I'm going on a trip
But I won't drive a single mile
Til I completely strip

I drive naked!
It's lots of fun for me
I want to see all 50 states
As bare as I can be

Massachusetts was just fine
And Maine was pretty neat
But the heat in Arizona
Made my butt stick to the seat

(repeat chorus)

I just realized that when you're driving across the country naked, you don't need to pack a suitcase. Oh, well.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Extra fun with Jenna

Jenna's to-do list for today:

1) Scare the holy crap out of Mommy.

Jenna and I had gone to the vet and the post office this morning and then to Wal-Mart, where she seemed fine at first. All of a sudden, she went from happy to whiny before turning white as a sheet and trying to throw up. She never threw up, but when I tried setting her down, her legs buckled underneath her and she went limp and closed her eyes. I picked her up and instead of hooking her legs around my waist like she usually does, her legs just hung there. She would open her eyes but then close them again. So I left our cart full of groceries and raced home. I got her in bed and called our pediatrician. Of course his office is all booked up today. The nurse thought Jenna may have gotten into something -- maybe she found a heartworm pill on the floor at the vet. A call to the vet confirmed that they had just opened for the day and were sure no pills had been spilled on the floor. The nurse said to try and wake her up and if she didn't want to stay awake to take her to the ER. So I woke her up and... she is FINE. She sucked down a sippy cup of juice and asked for more. She also asked about Wal-Mart, which makes me think she doesn't remember leaving there. "Daddy and Sissy went to the baseball game?" she asked. I said yes, they did. (Chad and Julia are on a field trip to see the Arkansas Travelers today.) Now she's on the couch watching Disney and asking for macaroni and cheese.

Here's the wonderful part. Jenna's doctor goes to our church and his son is in our youth group, which means Chad has access to the holy grail for all moms: our pediatrician's cell phone number. Chad called him from the baseball stadium, then he called me and said to bring her in this afternoon and they would work her in. After that phone conversation, my heart started beating normally again.

It's great that she's fine now, but what the heck?? And what if it happens again?

UPDATE: This has nothing to do with Jenna's health, but she asked for a hot dog to go with her macaroni and while I was microwaving the hot dog weenie, the paper towel underneath it caught on fire and burned the hot dog to a crisp. It's always fun, when you're already frazzled, to look across the kitchen and see flames in the microwave.

This is a bit much, even for a Monday.

ANOTHER UPDATE: We're back from the doctor. The EKG was fine and so was her blood count. She did have 102-degree fever, and she fell asleep in my arms in the exam room -- something she never does anymore. The doctor thinks it may just be a fever virus where she feels fine when her fever's down and when it goes up, she just checks out and goes to sleep. We are going to keep her home for a couple of days and keep an eye on her -- I may even sleep with her tonight.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Thanks to everyone who took my quiz -- all 44 of you! Some people were surprised about the answers (especially my dad about the tattoo) so I'll explain some of them here.

1) Where I was born: We lived in Lovington, NM but I was born in Hobbs because Lovington did not have a hospital at the time. So that question was kinda tricky. In fact, you wouldn't believe who missed it, but I won't reveal her identity since it's Mothers' Day.

We did end up moving to Hobbs when I was three.

2) The tattoo: I always told Chad that if he ever moved me out of Texas, I would get a Texas-related tattoo. The thing is that I never really thought he would move me out of Texas. Since he did last summer, I feel compelled to get a yellow rose on my lower back. But I want to get it in Texas, so it will have to wait until this summer.

3) Where Chad grew up: He was born in Lubbock, TX, but grew up in Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula.

4) Where we met: Chad's the best thing I ever got from the Bean!

5) My favorite place to shop: Well, duh. I don't think anyone -- even my mom -- missed that one.

6) Dashed dreams: I had been taking ballet and had visions of becoming a professional ballerina until we moved to a new town and a new church, where the elders were against ministers' kids taking dance lessons of any kind. So no more ballet for me.

7) Celebrity: Yep, I was famous in Baytown for a few years as a columnist for the local paper. It was great fun, and I met a lot of wonderful people. I also got quite a bit of very sweet fan mail, and only one hate letter in all that time! (Turns out Jerry Falwell has some hardcore fans in southeast Texas. But if I had known that, I still would have made fun of him.)

8) My major in college: When the dancing thing didn't work out (see #6), I had to change my future plans. I got my journalism degree...and I've still managed to offend church elders on a few occasions.

9) The girls: The girls are 5.5 years apart. I've really enjoyed their age difference and the fact that they are always in such different stages.

10) My ideal snack: Yep, sliced beets right out of the can. It's simply yummy to me. The other three answers involved meat and I've been meat-free since September.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

BFF 101

My BFF Carol made up a quiz for her friends to see how well they know her and I FLUNKED IT. I made a 50. I've known Carol since 1989, for heaven's sake. I was even in the quiz! (I was the friend who set her up with her husband. At least I got that question right.)

I made a quiz of my own. Go ahead, take it! Even if you are a complete stranger to me, you'll probably score higher than I did on Carol's quiz.

To take my quiz, click here.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fun with Sin Taxes

Here's another old column of mine from April 2004. I usually try to stay away from politics, but when an elected official does something extraordinarily goofy, I can't resist.

By Deana Nall

The Baytown Sun

Dear President Bush,

I know you're up to your eyeballs in issues of global importance right now, but I thought I'd fill you in on what's going on in your home state.

There's this guy named Rick Perry who took over after you left. Maybe you remember him.
Anyway, Gov. Perry has a rather intriguing idea for funding Texas public schools. He's proposing that Texans smoke, gamble and "adult entertain" their way to better schools for their kids.

Perry calls this being "fiscally responsible." Other people call it "living in Austin too long." The air or water or something up there tends to make people nutty. Walk around the campus of the University of Texas some time. You'll see what I mean.

But I'd like to hear the governor out. The more I think about this, the more I can see the benefits from this brilliant plan.
Imagine a 3-A high school in Anytown, Texas, a few years from now. Anytown High School has a brand new, state-of-the-art gymnasium named after Fred Hackenkoff. Was Mr. Hackenkoff a retired school district superintendent? Or a beloved coach?

Nope. Mr. Hackenkoff had a six-pack-a-day Marlboro habit. And he smoked enough to build those kids a gym.

Sure, he killed himself smoking. Hacked his lungs right onto the sidewalk one day. But what a nice gym. The folks of Anytown couldn't be more proud.

And you wouldn't believe the new band uniforms at Anytown High. Band nerds no more; these kids look sharp. And it's all thanks to Joe Gawksalott, who left his wife and eight kids at home every night to patronize "Lone Star Leggz," Anytown's only strip club.

Now there's a man who cares about the education of young Texans. I heard he ran off with one of those strippers, but talk about a local hero!

I think Perry's plan could be further developed to expedite revenues from these sin taxes into our schools. Why not build schools to house topless bars? That way, Dad could have lunch with Junior in the school cafeteria while contributing to his child's education by tucking a twenty into the G-string of someone named "Luscious."

And if a teacher or librarian needs to order new materials the budget won't cover? All she has to do is yell down the hall, "Hey! Somebody light up a cigarette!" and she'll have the funds she needs in no time.

Let's get the kids in on the fun! Schools can implement programs such as "The Great American Smoke-In," "Video Poker Olympics" and "Adopt-A-Stripper" to get our children involved in these previously undesirable habits early on. We want them to grow up to support public education, don't we?

Again, I know you're busy, what with the war and campaign going on. But if things don't work out for you in November, we'd love for you to come back home and support the education of Texas schoolchildren. Under Perry's plan, all you'd have to do is start smoking, gambling and hanging out at the "Fantasy Cabaret."

I'm sure Laura won't mind. It's all for education, you know.


Deana Nall
Baytown, TX

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Monday, May 07, 2007

An old one.

From time to time, when I don't have anything to blog about, I'll post one of my old columns from The Baytown Sun. Here's one from early 2004:

By Deana Nall
The Baytown Sun

"I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb. And I also know that I'm not blonde." -- Dolly Parton

I don't have much in common with Dolly Parton, but, as someone who converted to blond-ism 15 or so years ago, I'm right there with her about the blonde jokes. My hair color comes from Clairol, not from God. So the jokes don't apply to me.

And now that researchers have discovered that dark hair dyes can cause cancer, there's another reason to go blond.

But every once in a while, someone wants to know. Why did I join the blonde ranks? Is my natural hair color so dreadful that I must keep it hidden my entire life?

No. It was a nice, warm golden brown that almost looked red in certain kinds of light. But it was my senior year in high school, and I had to rebel some way.

In the late '80s, at least where I lived, tattoos and body piercings were still reserved for biker chicks and rock stars.

I did get my left ear pierced four times, but it wasn't enough. I wanted something more drastic, and my salvation from the ordinary came in the form of a little bottle of Sun-In.

I don't know what's in Sun-In. I think it's hydrogen peroxide. But it turned my hair orange.

So after walking around looking like an orangutan for a while, I decided to cover up the orange with some "Light Natural Blond" I found at the drugstore.

Being a new blonde was fun. I didn't get mistaken for a die-hard University of Texas fan anymore. I had to get used to realizing people were talking to me when they said, "Hey! You with the blonde hair!"

I went through a host of hair colors in college, but I always came back to blond.

And I discovered another perk to blondhood. I had completed a rite of passage. At least in my family. My mom, aunt and grandmother all dyed their hair from as far back as I could remember. When I joined them, I dubbed us "The Clairol Club." We had fun with it for a while, showing up at family gatherings with matching hair.

"You look so much like your mom," people would tell me, unaware of the fact that before 1988, we hardly resembled each other at all.

My grandmother stayed blond until she died in 1996. Not long afterward, my aunt revoked her membership in the Clairol Club when she quit coloring her hair.

But my mom and I are still going strong. And there are so many neat colors to choose from now! You don't have to just go blond anymore. You can go "Chamomile," "Ginger Ale" or "Sugar Cane." Or if you'd rather become a redhead, you can choose from "Pomegranate," "Luscious Mango," and a host of other colors that sound good enough to eat.

So if you want to see what another color would look like on your head, go for it. Whether you become a "Seashell," "Praline" or "Dark Chocolate," I think you'll have a lot of fun.

Just stay away from the Sun-In.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007


T-shirt I saw in an ad for a local Christian book store:

"Top 3 Reasons Why MOTHER'S are Great"

I really don't like to be the type of person who obsesses over this stuff. But seriously, does no one know how to use an apostrophe anymore?

And yes, I did email the company.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Eyelashes Alive!

Jenna and I went to Target this morning. I really did need a few things, plus I thought we could hang out in the toy department for something to do. Not a bad way to spend a morning, really.

It was in the toy section that I found this: Baby Alive Sip ‘n’ Slurp. But she could easily pass for Baby Tammy Faye Bakker. I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but this doll’s eyelashes look like they came from “Prostitutes ‘R’ Us.” Maybe it’s the “in” thing among the 3-year-old set to have dolls that look like black caterpillars crawled up on their faces and died. Who knows. I just hope this is a trend that bypasses our house.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Life is More Than a Moment

"I still find it difficult to believe that this display of racial hatred was happening in front of my high school and my camera." -- photographer Will Counts from his book, "A Life is More Than a Moment."

The front page of the Style section in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a feature about Will Counts, the photographer who caught this well-known image and many others during the Little Rock's desegregation crisis in the late 1950s.

These pictures remind me that although our country has always held freedom in the highest esteem, so many of us -- over the past 200 years or so -- have not understood what freedom is really supposed to be.

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