Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ph.D in VBS

I was determined to stay busy while Chad was gone this week, and we have. Julia has been going to VBS every morning from 9-noon, and then another VBS at night from 6:30-9 p.m. She's been having a good time, but she's pretty worn out. It has been nice, though, not having to hear "I'm bored" or having to say "You've been on the computer all day -- find something else to do!"

I've been reading the coolest book. It's called "All the Presidents' Pastries" and it's written by Roland Mesnier, who worked as the executive pastry chef at the White House for 25 years. He writes about his birth into a very poor French family, and how he worked his way up to the most pretigious chef job on the planet. He worked for five presidents, and it's interesting to read about his take on major world events from his view in the president's kitchen.

I'm just now starting back on Anne Lamott's book because I left it at a friend's house in Rosebud, Arkansas.

I also feel the need to admit that I'm hooked on an MTV show, "Engaged and Underage." It features 18-20 year olds who have decided to get married. A few of the couples are so sweet and cute and I think they just might make it. But most of them should probably keep their names on all their stuff so dividing it up in divorce court will be easier. Sorry, I guess I'm just a realist. One bride-to-be, when arguing with her fiance about his plans for his bachelor party, said, "You pinky-promised me when we got engaged that you wouldn't have strippers at your bachelor party." People, if you and your future spouse are "pinky-promising" things to each other, don't get married. Graduate from kindergarten first.

Next week is our Houston/Baytown trip. Baytown people, go to Jenkins Park on the 4th because we want to see you!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fast Food Fun

Chad was leaving for a youth trip yesterday after church and asked me to go get lunch for the four of us and bring it back to the church so he could work on loading up the van. Here's the conversation I had in the drive-through at Sonic:

SONIC PERSON: Welcome to Sonic. How may I help you?

ME: I need a #1 with a Dr Pepper...

SP: Do you want cheddar peppers or anything else?

ME: No... (meaning I didn't want the cheddar peppers, and I started to give the rest of the order)

SP: Your total is $4.32, drive through please.

ME: Wait -- I need to finish ordering.

SP: (Five minutes of silence)

I backed the car up and pulled up again hoping to trigger whatever it is that tells them someone is in the drive-through.

SP: Welcome to Sonic. How may I help you?

ME: I need to finish ordering.

SP: Oh. What did you order?

So I was finally able to order everything. Then I sat in the drive-through for another ten minutes and there was still a car ahead of me. I didn't have all the time in the world because Chad was on a schedule. So I drove out of the line and went to the Wendy's next door.

WENDY'S PERSON: Welcome to Wendy's. How may I help you?

ME: I need a #1 with a Dr Pepper...

WP: Your total is $4.32. Drive through, please.

Somehow the fast-food gods intervened and I was able to get back to the church with food for all four of us (including a salad for me. The #1 was for Chad, for those of you tracking my veggie progress.) But I gotta tell ya, one of the things I have enjoyed about becoming vegetarian is that I don't have to deal with fast-food establishments very much any more. There isn't much for veggie people at those places except for fries and desserts, and I might as well get something healthy from somewhere else.

I now know that ordering at a drive-through requires the not so easy skill of getting your entire order out in one breath quickly -- before they total you out, tell you to drive through and shut down the line of communication between them and your car. So I've been practicing. Here goes:


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Friday, June 22, 2007


Last night we went to see LRC youth group member Alex Philbrick play baseball. Because he's related to just about everyone who goes to our church, we got to hang out with quite a few of them at the game. Here's something cool about Alex's mom Ashley and me: We both have dads named Winston. How many of you can say that, huh? HUH??

Since we were in the area, and since I just finished "Turn Away Thy Son," Elizabeth Jacoway's book about the Little Rock desegregation crisis, we drove by the Arkansas State Capitol on the way home because I wanted to look at the sculptures depicting the Little Rock Nine. The sculptures show them as the teenagers they were almost fifty years ago taking the courageous walk to Central High School. It actually took them several tries to get in, and they finally entered the school on Sept. 24, 1957 -- several weeks after the school year had started. This was a monumental victory, but it was also the beginning of a traumatic year as all nine were subjected to all kinds of torment for the duration of the school year.

A couple of quotes that have stuck with me from the book:

"For the first time in my life, I felt like an American citizen." -- Minnijean Brown, one of The Nine, on walking into Central High School on Sept. 24, 1957.

"I hope that one of these days, when I put my hand over my heart for the Pledge of Allegiance and salute the flag for its promise of liberty and justice for all, I will be talking about a present reality and not just some future possibility." -- Terrence Roberts, one of The Nine, speaking in the Central High School auditorium in 2005 when a stamp commemorating the crisis was unveiled.

The story of the Little Rock Nine demonstrates so clearly something I've been kicking around in my head for a while now: That a country is not truly free unless it is free for all of its citizens. A seemingly simple concept, but one our country still struggles to grasp.

One side note: Hazel Bryan Massery, the yelling white girl in this famous picture (in all fairness, she immediately regretted her actions and eventually apologized to Elizabeth Eckford), was -- at the time this photo was taken -- a member of the Church of Christ right here in Little Rock.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Now that's one hot spring

Hot Springs today. This place is only 40 minutes down the road from us and we just now made the trip. (I feel the need to point out that Julia is wearing a skort. She is not revealing any undergarments in this picture.)

First we went into the Fordyce bath house, where sick, rich people came to soak in the healing waters of the natural hot springs way back a long time ago. And now, poor white children can do it for free.

Julia in a big old bathtub. And I mean OLD.

The girls near one of the springs. Jenna was just then noticing I had put her hair in pigtails.

Turns out the ice cream in Hot Springs has healing powers, too.

Hot Springs has statues all over the place, and I thought the photo I took of this one turned out kinda cool. Talk about shooting the bird! Ha ha

Then we drove to the top of the mountain where Julia nearly fell off. Instead of helping her, we just took this picture.

Four Nall women: Me, Jenna, Rita (Chad's mom) and Julia. You may notice Jenna is not wearing pants. At least the rest of us are. Three out of four ain't bad.

One thing that's neat about Hot Springs is that all different kinds of people go there. Up on the mountain, we encountered a biker gang (the members of which were really nice -- Jenna kept talking to one guy and he was very careful to hold his cigarette away from her) and a young Mennonite couple. I wanted to take their picture all together, but I figured it would have been tacky to ask.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Well, I started one book and got all into it and then I started another book and got all into IT. So I have to make the heart-wrenching decision to postpone one until I'm done with the other.

The first one is "Turn Away Thy Son" by Elizabeth Jacoway. Jacoway was a student in Little Rock during the 1957 desegregation crisis. Her uncle was the superintendent of schools, but Jacoway was sheltered from the turmoil of the crisis. It wasn't until graduate school that she realized the gravity of the situation she had ignored as a teen. About this discovery, she wrote:

"My intellectual awakening began with the realization that I had mindlessly participated in and benefited from a racist culture."

So she wrote this book -- the most exhaustive account of the Central High School crisis that has been written. I want to read it because the 50th anniversary of the crisis is this fall, and, since it happened so close to where I live, I want to understand more fully what happened. And more importantly, I want to get my mind a little more around the continual quest for freedom that exists and I think will always exist in this country of ours that has always, strangely, been called "free."

The other book is "Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith" by Anne Lamott. Lamott is pretty much the only Christian writer I like right now. Think of Joel Osteen and what he preaches. Then think of the exact OPPOSITE of that. That's Anne Lamott. She writes of faith from a very real perspective. She shows that faith can be found in the midst of the cesspool that is real life. She gripes. She complains. She curses. Quite a bit. But she always leads us back around to where God fits into the chaos. Here's a bit from her description of when she first found God -- when she first realized he is everywhere -- , while she, an alcoholic drug-user, attempted to hitchhike home from a former boyfriend's house:

"I remember standing there at dusk with my thumb out, euphoric and exhausted as if I'd been at the beach all day, then taken a long, hot shower to wash off all the sand."

Lamott can be quite profound, but also sarcastic and funny and irreverent and downright crude. I think this is why I identify with her so much. Here's her description of a town in California where she lived during her hippie days:

"Bolinas was a great place for ritual and celebrations -- it was nearly as exotic as India, if you thought about it, but without all those dying animals in the streets and people defecating in the holy waters, which doesn't really work for me at all."

Oh, and I have four deadlines looming. So I may not be reading anything at all.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Devil in the Junior League

Lois, my best Baytown girlfriend, is always asking me, "What have you been reading?" I had told her "Nothing" too many times in a row, so I gathered up the girls on Friday and took them to the Benton library. We like this one better than the Bryant library -- it's a lot bigger and reminds us more of the Baytown library, which, other than church, was the center of our social lives when we lived there.

I checked out this book and finished it yesterday. (Yes, I read at lightning speed -- something that continues to baffle my husband.) It's "The Devil in the Junior League" by Linda Francis Lee. It's about a woman who excels in snobbery (but in an endearing way, which makes her likeable) who is forced out of her position of privilege and prestige through a series of "unfortunate incidents." The way she fights back and ultimately finds herself makes for an entertaining read. And if you've ever lived in a town where the Junior League dominates the social culture and probably has a whole lot more power than it should (Hello out there, Junior League of Beaumont, Texas!) you'll enjoy her descriptions of the inner workings of the chapter in her fictional hometown. The author is a real-life Junior Leaguer and former Texas debutante.

Next I'm onto something completely different: "Turn Away Thy Son," which is about the 1957 desegregation crisis at Little Rock's Central High School. Incidentally, several of our youth group members attend Central.

So that's what I'm reading, Lois!

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

The fridge

I had a little kid-free time the other day, so I decided to clean out the fridge. It had been a while, plus Chad's mom is coming today. For some reason, Chad's mom coming to visit is the only thing that motivates me to clean out my fridge.

I was impressed with the results:

While I was at it, I decided to get the pantry organized, too:

Notice the way the top of the "Cookie Crisp" box is torn up from Jenna's attempt to open it.

Even Julia, who has never been known for her organizational skills, was impressed:

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Friday, June 08, 2007

"Last night was a record to be broken..."

" broke all over the kitchen floor..."

Norah Jones was nothing less than lovely last night at Little Rock's Robinson Center Music Hall. If you like good music without glam and pyrotechnics, Norah's show is for you. Norah and "The Handsome Band" played for a sold-out crowd, and two of the seats were occupied by me and my man.

First of all, Norah is so dang cute. If she had just stood on stage and let us look at her for 90 minutes, that would have been swell. But throw in her exquisite voice and the fact that she's oozing musical talent, and you've got a live show to remember. She sang a mix of songs from her three albums plus covers from other artists, and then returned to the stage for a three-song encore. She was so gracious. After each song, she would say "Thank you!" in her cute little voice. No, thank YOU, Norah! We love YOU!

On the way home, we stopped by Sonic and as luck would have it, it was "Free Root Beer Float Night." A perfect ending to a perfect evening.


Monday, June 04, 2007


If there's one thing I can't get over about Arkansas, it's that we have four distinct seasons. I've never experienced this. In about one week in March, everything went from dead and brown to vibrant and green. I'm told this is called "spring." Fascinating.

Just to illustrate, here's the front of our house back in February, about a week before we closed on it. (I realize Jenna appears to be fleeing the house in terror. Don't be alarmed. It happens quite a bit around here.)

And here's the front of our house this morning with the sun all shiny and the flowers all bloomy.

These things shot up out of the ground so fast one week that I figured they were weeds. I was on my way out the door to pull them up when Chad stopped me. I'm glad he did, because they turned into these pretty yellow flowers! Jenna can look out her window just about any time of day and see butterflies all around them.

This stuff lines our walkway and no kidding -- one day it wasn't there and the next day, we were tripping over the leaves.

A neat thing about buying a house in the winter is that you never know what's going to come up in the flower beds in the spring. These lilies were a lovely surprise.

Spanky, the cat who always wants in.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Jenna and me... the luau honoring our graduating seniors Wednesday night.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007


Chad left on a youth trip, and I've been to Target twice in two days.

I realize this is not a good sign of things to come, especially when Chad leaves for his week-long trips later this summer.

The truth is that Chad leaving town is lonelier here than it was in Baytown. In Baytown, I usually hung out with my parents or my best Baytown girlfriend Lois, who is retired and was usually available to hang out with me and the girls.

I know there is something to be said for being a grown-up and learning to get by without my family or the close friends I had in Baytown.

But it is a bit lonely, nonetheless.

On a non-whiny note, the girls and I made a day of it today by going to Little Rock and hanging out at Barnes & Noble and then Mimi's Cafe for lunch. (Speaking of Barnes & Noble, check out the May issue of "Empowering Women." I've got four articles in there and you'll also find Sarah Paulk's byline.) Tomorrow we start "Summer on the Rock," which is our children's program for the summer. I'm teaching the 3rd grade. The theme for the summer is "HERO" and the third grade has a Yoda theme. I'm thinking of knighting all the kids tomorrow and calling them "JEDY" knights: "Jesus' Everyday Directions for You." (Which is what scripture is, and we're going to have an emphasis on memory verses this year.)

Julia and I also came up with "Jesus Evacuates Dizzy Idiots," plus a few others that are probably not worth mentioning.

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