Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deana's Greatest Hits, Part II

Until I have time to write something new, you get to read my old newspaper columns. This one stars Jenna, The Amazing Awake Baby.


Don’t Worry, They’ll Stop Crying One Day
By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published January 05, 2005

“So how is the baby sleeping now?” As the parents of a 4-month-old, we get asked this question a lot.

We obsess over this because households containing little ones tend to be a little chaotic. In fact, the word “chaos” comes from the Latin word meaning “I have small children.” So we pray for moments of calm and order, and it would be nice if they happened in the middle of the night. Babies, unfortunately, are born without the knowledge that nighttime is when one is supposed to sleep. So we parents long for our infants to reach that nirvana that is known as “Sleeping Through the Night.”

Generally you’ll get one of two responses when you share the fact that sleeping at night is not a priority for your baby. One is “Oh, our little angel was sleeping through the night when she was just a week old. We sure got lucky!” The other one is “Our child is almost 19 and hasn’t slept through the night yet!”

Neither is very encouraging.

Our own sweet Jenna, who has ocean-blue eyes, pink cherub cheeks (on both ends) and a smile that completely melts our hearts, had us pulling out our hair for the first three months. Then it happened! She started sleeping seven or so hours in a row. We had made it! But I’m afraid she has regressed. We’re back to getting up with her at least once a night. Maybe she’s insecure. Maybe she just enjoys our company. I don’t know. I’m too tired to figure it out.

But I would like to offer what expertise I have gained in a handy guide I’ll call “Sleep and Your Infant” or “You Know It’s Bad When Both You and Your Baby Are Crying at 2 a.m.”

First, you could try learning to live without sleep. But be warned: You will start doing things like looking around the house for your child’s pacifier for 20 minutes before realizing it’s been in your hand the whole time. Not a good way to function.

So you may have to resort to something all parents dread. It’s called “Letting Them Cry it Out,” and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Here’s how it works: When your baby wakes up and starts crying, don’t do anything. The idea is to let her learn how to get back to sleep independently. Think happy thoughts. Try not to watch the clock. When it’s been so long that you think your child’s lungs are going to rupture, burst out of bed and run into her room. Discover that her diaper is quite toxic. Get her cleaned up, fed and back into bed. She will resume crying immediately.

Go back to bed, feeling awful that your child was crying for a legitimate reason and you forced her to lie in her own excrement for a ridiculous amount of time. Get used to being consumed by guilt. As a parent, it’s your lot in life.

After a while, your baby will get quiet. She has either fallen asleep or climbed out the window to go live with another family. I like to check to make sure it isn’t the latter. Now you can go to sleep. And hang in there — that’s the most important thing. As my mother always says (and this also applies if your child should ever swallow something weird like a quarter or some cat food), “This, too, shall pass.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ghost of Blogs Past

I was reading through some old blog posts from five years ago and found the one that got my husband in trouble with the elders of the church we were working with at the time. Turns out if you play Bunco for money, you don't admit it in the local newspaper. Who knew?

Outta my way, it’s Bunco time
By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published May 11, 2005

Usually, I’m a loving wife and mother whose schedule revolves around taking care of my family. Unless it’s the second Tuesday of the month, then my husband and kids can eat Spaghetti-Os off the kitchen floor for all I care. I’m playing Bunco.

A few people — all men — have asked me, “What is Bunco?”

Well, I’ll tell you. Bunco looks like a dice game. We try to roll sixes, and when six comes up on all three dice, that’s a Bunco. You have to watch it, though, because other players can grab your Bunco away. This can get ugly. If your wife comes home with a little skin missing, this is why.

But Bunco isn’t about the dice. In reality, Bunco is the heart of Baytown’s mommy culture. It’s a chance for moms to do three things we don’t get to do very often: 1) Leave the house with the family still in it, 2) eat food we didn’t cook, and 3) talk at length with other grown-ups.

I’m a seasoned Bunco-ite, having played with the same group for the entire five years we’ve lived here. Before that, I played for a couple of years in another town. In that Bunco group, we played for prizes.

Here in Baytown, we cut to the chase. We play for money.

I was a bit hesitant to play for money at first. I’m a minister’s wife who comes from a long line of ministers’ wives. In fact, I can’t seem to get away from ministers. I wouldn’t be surprised if my cat got ordained one of these days.

Anyway, “playing for money” is one of those things some people think women married to ministers shouldn’t do, like smoking, getting tattoos, or using rough language, such as “That bites,” or “I voted for Kerry!” My views changed, though, the first time I played Bunco. I won 20 bucks. That would clear up anyone’s moral dilemma. I’ve never looked back.

Another great thing about Bunco is that it brings together women from different walks of life. My group has Catholics, Baptists, teachers, a soccer coach, a nurse, stay-at-home moms and work-from-home moms. We don’t see much of each other outside of Bunco, and it’s fun to meet up every month to find out what’s been going on in everyone’s lives. We’ve had births, new houses, promotions and college graduations.

We’ve endured a lot together, too. Just in the last year, our group has gone through a divorce and the serious illness of a child. And last July, we lost one of our members to cancer. We aren’t just about rolling dice. We’re about helping each other get through the times in which real life can become a little too real.

Oh — and we’re also about food. We all take turns cooking for Bunco night. You know how some women politely turn down dessert, saying, “Oh, none for me, thanks.” You won’t find those women at Bunco. It’s our night off and, by golly, we’re going to live it up. Cheesecake? Chocolate mousse? Twinkies? We don’t care. Just bring it on.

Well, I hope I’ve helped clear up some of the mystery of Bunco. The best piece of advice I can give a Bunco husband is that on Bunco night, stay out of your wife’s way. She’s got somewhere to go.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


We've been in our house three years now. We still love it. Here are some recent pics:

Our bedroom. The table at the end of the bed is the first piece of furniture my grandparents bought when they got married in 1928. (The newspapers under the table are clips I'm getting together to apply to a master's program in writing at UALR.)

Our bathroom. I love our bathroom because it's yellow. After my string of miscarriages in 2003, a friend helped me paint our bathroom in Baytown bright yellow. It's such a bright color that helped lift me out of my sadness that year. When we first looked at this house and I saw the yellow bathroom, it pretty much sealed the deal for me.

Bathtub in said yellow bathroom. Want to know how many episodes of Gilmore Girls I've watched in this tub? Too many to count.

If there's one thing I'm not crazy about in the house, it's the color on our bedroom wall. It's a little dark for my optimistic nature. We might change it someday, but I do kind of like the way our old furniture looks against it. This is my grandmother's old dresser.

My other grandmother's old rocking chair.

Where I work, blog and Facebook. On the top shelf is my college diploma on the left, the award I won from the Texas Associated Press on the right, and my dad's old Brownie Hawkeye camera in the middle. (I guess you never notice all the fingerprints on your laptop screen until you take a picture of it.)

So that's part of our house. It isn't perfect. It's almost too little, and I'm sure it will feel more so as the girls get older. It has popcorn ceilings and probably builder-grade everything. And we don't care one bit. We feel so blessed to have a house, jobs and everything we need to take care of our girls. I really can't imagine living anywhere else.

One more thing: I love the flowerbeds. Even though my tulips were foolish enough to pop out of the ground right before our snow/ice days. We'll see what happens in a few weeks. I'm still holding out hope.