Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Hey, isn't that the name of a really awful movie? Anyway, SG tagged me and it's 10:30 p.m. and I'm not sleepy yet so here goes:

7 answers to 7 questions

7 things I plan to do before I die:
See my kids grow up and at least make some decisions that are wise
Get old with my husband
Travel to all the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived
Maybe have something published somewhere besides The Baytown Sun
Own a house that was built after 1952
Learn how to cook more stuff
Have a raging mid-life crisis and get a sportscar, maybe a cute pool boy

7 things I can do:

Play the piano
Design magazine and newspaper ads and news pages; although it's been a while
Write stuff that makes people laugh
Braid hair really fast
Make biscuits from scratch
Catch my kids' throw-up in my bare hands
Tell my kids have fever by the way they smell

7 things I cannot do:

Read a mercury thermometer
Kill big bugs
Use chopsticks
Quilting or needlepoint or anything like that
Mow a lawn
Keep my carpet from looking like I'm raising livestock on it
Move a tree off my roof

7 things that attract me to another person:

Pursuit of knowledge
Nice pecs

7 Celebrity Crushes:

Jude Law -- before he got caught doing something horribly immoral with his nanny on the pool table
Tobey McGuire
Harrison Ford -- he's getting old, though
Orlando Bloom -- but where are his lips?!
The guy who was Reese Witherspoon's white trash husband in "Sweet Home Alabama"
Keanu Reeves

7 things I say the most:

Mommy loves little Jen-Jen!
You're my favorite first-grader.
Does this look infected?
Can you tell I'm sucking in?
Are these clean?
Did you turn on the monitor?
I'm sorry, officer, it won't happen again

7 bloggers I am tagging:

Carol - who's not a blogger but should be
Mary Lou

Julia Update

Julia updated her blog several times today. She'd love for you to go take a look.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Back in Baytown

After a completely unexpected, unplanned, weeklong vacation, we came back to Baytown today. The yard is a mess, but so is everyone else's. We lost a tree in the backyard and it landed on the roof above Julia's bedroom. It went through the roof and into the attic but not through the ceiling. Our friend Tommy had already been here with his chainsaw working on it and was back here this evening working on it some more. WITHOUT US ASKING HIM TO. These kind of friends are good to have.

It's also good to have these kinds of friends:

- friends who, when you call up and shamelessly invite yourself and your family over for an extended stay, say "Sure! And bring your cat!" (Patrick and Carol.)
- friends who buy you food (P&C again.)
- friends who buy you stuff (P&C again.)
- friends who, although having never met you in real life, bring you yummy cookies (Elizabeth.)
- friends who, when they thought they finally got rid of you, let you come back and stay another night because a) highways are too congested and b) Your six-year-old threw up in the car. (P&C again.)
- Friends who take care of your baby because you have caught the throwing-up disease from your six-year-old. (P&C again.)
- Friends, or in this case, parents, who welcome you into their home and take care of your children so you can finish being sick and your husband can start getting sick. (My parents)
- Parents who send you home with groceries so you won't have an empty fridge after throwing out everything that went bad while the power was out. (My parents again)
- Friends who understand why you won't be able to turn in your newspaper column this week. (My editors at The Baytown Sun.) (Only the second time I missed in three years, I might add. The other time was when Jenna was born.)

There are friends who will go an extra mile, and then there are those who will run a whole dang marathon just to help you out. Anyway, that's how we get through these unexpected, unplanned vacations. "Thank you" sounds silly -- so inadequate to express how we feel.

Beaumont is my hometown and things aren't looking good over there. My aunt and uncle still live there and are staying with my cousin in Indiana. They have no clue what shape their house is in, since there is no way to communicate with anyone in Beaumont. We have heard that a member at their church was killed when he left a shelter on Saturday to check on his house, where he was hit by a falling tree. Please keep everyone affected by the hurricane in your prayers.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Now, it's pukin' at the Partins

Here in our shelter from the storm, a stomach virus is going around. It's stuck with the Partins so far, but I expect some or all of the Nalls to start having symptoms soon. So far today, Chad and I got three of the girls out of the house for a while (Emma was at school), and we'll take all four out for pizza tonight to give Patrick and Carol more "sick-without-kids" time. We need P&C to get better so they can take care of us when we come down with it! The good news is that there IS a doctor in the house!

As far as the hurricane goes, we are worried about Baytown -- and I'm also worried about Beaumont, where I grew up. My parents live in Houston now -- they tried to leave Thurs. and gave up. They are back home now, and planning to weather it out.

I need to go help corral the kids...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Party at the Partins!!

So here we are in Waco. We drove up here Wednesday and encountered NO traffic problems. My rule for all future hurricanes is LEAVE BEFORE THEY TELL YOU TO. My parents left their house in Houston this morning and have gone 14 miles in three hours. Please pray that they find a place to stay tonight. We are SO glad to be here -- to spend time with our friends but also to avoid possibly dying in the hurricane. Please pray for everybody on the coast because this one's not looking good.

We are staying with our friends Patrick and Carol. They have two girls, so our own two girls are having a great time. Chad has offered to watch all FOUR girls while Carol and I go to Starbucks, so I better run before he renegs on his offer.

Here is a little Partin/Nall trivia:

1) Carol, her daughter Emma, my daughter Jenna and I ALL have the middle name of "Carol."
2) I set Patrick and Carol up on their first date.
3) Patrick and Deana had a short-lived romance (?) in junior high.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

True Confession #3

I'm sort of a germ freak. Not like Howie Mandell, though, who refuses to shake anyone's hand. I think that's just rude. But, if we're at a potluck or huddle and somebody says "Everybody join hands and we'll pray!" -- well, it bugs me. Do we HAVE to hold hands? Why? I love these people just as much without making physical contact with them. When the prayer is over, I sneak away and wash my hands AGAIN before eating. It's not that all the other people are gross. It's just my germ thing. We had someone way worse than me in the youth group whose name started with an "F." She's off at college now... probably washing her hands a whole heck of a lot.

Anyway, I have this question for you. Let's say you use the restroom before going to the kitchen to prepare food. Do you:

1) Wash your hands in the bathroom, then proceed to the kitchen and prepare food
2) Skip washing your hands in the bathroom and just wash your hands in the kitchen
3) Wash your hands in BOTH the bathroom and the kitchen.
4) Be completely disgusting and don't wash your hands at all.

I choose #3. Option #1 would transport bathroom germs to the kitchen. (From the towel, which was hanging there when I flushed, which sprayed invisible germy stuff all over the room.) Option #2 would transport even MORE bathroom germs to the kitchen. I don't even want to talk about Option #4.

So is this weird? Is double-washing a sign of psychosis?

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Write Stuff and the Anti-Shoe Baby

I have two things I'm freaking out about today.

1) All of a sudden, I have a TON of stuff I'm supposed to be writing. I have my three-part series I do every fall for the newspaper about Alzheimer's and Memory Walk. And I volunteered, for some reason, to write a feature about the post office in the old part of Baytown that was built in 1930-something. And yesterday a minister from Impact asked me to write something about their hurricane relief efforts for Christian Chronicle. This would all be very nice but I have a baby that WON'T LET ME GO TO THE BATHROOM, let alone write something.

2) Said baby will not wear shoes. And it's all my fault. As soon as it turned warm last spring, I quit putting them on her. So I bought her shoes a couple of weeks ago and tried putting socks and shoes on her and you would have THOUGHT I WAS TRYING TO KILL HER. She was screaming and trying to crawl away. Once I got them on her, she sat and held on to her feet and wailed. I have ruined my child. She'll never get to eat in one of those "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" places.

This would all be very stressful if she weren't so darn cute. That's a picture of her when we caught her sucking on a purple marker in Chad's office.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Closing of AstroWorld hurts many

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published September 14, 2005

Nothing lasts forever. Not even AstroWorld.

The Houston area has lost landmarks before. The place near the Houston Zoo where I grew up riding ponies. It’s gone now. That cheesy aquarium in Galveston called “Sea Arama.” It’s gone, too. Things change. That’s part of life. I’m OK with that.

But this business of AstroWorld closing really caught me off-guard. I thought Astroworld was here to stay. To me, it was kind of like church. Your church never closes down on you. And neither should the theme park you grew up going to.

The thing is that I didn’t actually grow up in Houston. Until seventh grade, we lived in a tiny town in New Mexico. Going to Dairy Queen after church on Sunday nights was about the most fun we ever had.

So when we came to Houston in the summers to visit grandparents and got to go to AstroWorld, it was unprecedented fun. And for me, AstroWorld lasted longer than the one day we spent there. Back home in New Mexico, I dreamed about it at night. My brother and I played AstroWorld by fashioning roller coaster tracks out of his orange plastic Hot Wheels tracks. In our plastic wading pool, I recreated AstroWorld’s dolphin show — featuring my naked Barbies.

(They lived in a camper in my closet and couldn’t afford swimsuits.)

Then we moved down here, and I got to go to AstroWorld all through junior high and high school. And since 2001, we’ve been taking our church youth group every summer.

When the news of AstroWorld’s closing broke on Monday, I began wondering what’s going to happen to the Texas Cyclone. When it opened in 1976, it was rated one of the best roller coasters in the world. And the Ultra Twister, the only pipeline-barrel roll roller coaster in North America. And Greezed Lightnin’, which has been taking roller coaster fans from 0-60 miles per hour in less than six seconds since 1978.

And even better than the coasters is what I consider to be AstroWorld's treasure. Tucked away toward the back of the park is a beautiful old Dentzel Carousel. Its 52 wooden animals were hand-carved in 1895. The carousel has been in continuous operation since 1907, and it moved to AstroWorld when the park opened in 1968. What’s going to happen to it?

I know Six Flags, Inc. is $2 billion in the hole. From a business perspective, closing a park is probably a pretty good idea for them right now.

But from a human perspective, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for us. With terrorist attacks and unfathomable natural disasters, our world has become a place that’s not so comfortable to live in anymore. I don’t know how wise it is to take some of our fun away.

Just over a month ago, on the night of Aug. 6, my 6-year-old and I stood at the base of the loop on Greezed Lightnin’ and laughed at the looks on riders’ faces as they turned upside down. Julia isn’t ready to ride the big rides yet, but I told her that when she was, I would bring her back and ride them with her. I wanted her to have the same memories I made growing up.

Now we’ll have to make them elsewhere. I know change is part of growing up and moving on. I guess I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Something's not right with the world when the THEME PARK YOU GREW UP GOING TO suddenly decides to close.

Astroworld will close forever at end of 2005 season

07:29 PM CDT on Monday, September 12, 2005

From 11 News Staff Reports

Six Flags, Inc. announced Monday that it will permanently close its AstroWorld theme park in Houston at the end of the 2005 season.

The company said 119 permanent jobs will be lost as a result of the closure, with a number of employees likely to be offered jobs at other Six Flags properties. The park also employs approximately 1,500 workers on a seasonal basis. The 2005 seasonal staff will not be affected.

The 109-acre site will be marketed to the real estate development community.

The company expects to make a tidy profit given the property’s size and location within a revitalized and dynamic area of the city and its proximity to so many of Houston’s civic, healthcare and business enterprises.

Proceeds from the sale would be used for debt reduction and general corporate purposes, the company said.

Factors contributing to the decision to sale included the park’s relative performance over the past several years and continued uncertainty over offsite parking rights related to Reliant Stadium and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the company said.

“We are always looking for opportunities to enhance shareholder value. In assessing the performance of this property relative to the significant increase in real estate values in the Houston market, we concluded that the best way to unlock this value for shareholders was to pursue a sale of the property,” said Kieran Burke, chairman and CEO of Six Flags. “While we continually review our properties in order to determine the best allocation of resources, it is important to note that a unique set of circumstances applies to the AstroWorld property and this action should not be considered indicative of our intentions for any of our other parks.”

The AstroWorld site is located near Reliant Park, Houston’s major sports, entertainment and exhibition center, the museum district and the Texas Medical Center and is immediately adjacent to the city’s new light rail system’s Fannin South Station.

Six Flags said it retains a significant presence in Houston with its Six Flags SplashTown water park, which is located on another site in the city and is expected to be enhanced with equipment from AstroWorld. Six Flags will also continue to serve the market with its parks in San Antonio and Arlington.

“We had a great run with AstroWorld and have been proud to serve as a family entertainment venue in the community for so many years,” said Burke. “We are grateful to everyone who visited, worked and supported AstroWorld, and we look forward to serving Houstonians at Six Flags SplashTown and other nearby Six Flags parks. We are very encouraged by the prospect that the site has great potential for economic development and are hopeful this sale will ultimately result in significant job creation and economic activity for the city of Houston.”

The sale is subject to the approval of Six Flags’ bank lenders.

Ode to Cheap Diapers

Let me just take this opportunity to say that Parents' Choice diapers from Wal-Mart really SUCK.

On another note, I came home from the store today, set Jenna on the living room floor and went back and forth carrying groceries into the house for ten minutes before I looked into our bedroom and saw that my husband was in our bed. I had no idea he was home. I thought he was on the other side of Houston. I hadn't noticed the giant church van parked outside our house when I got home. It's weird when you think you and your baby are home alone and suddenly you realize someone's in your bed... even if it is your husband. For the record, he wasn't being a slacker. He was trying to lose a headache.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Romance with New Orleans hard to get over

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published September 07, 2005

Sometimes, writers reach their limits.

I felt like I needed to write about the human aspect of Hurricane Katrina — the enormous amount of human suffering that is now into its tenth day. But I couldn’t. If I can’t get my mind around something, I can’t write about it.

So instead, I am writing about loss on another level. The loss of a grand old city.

Spring break of 1991. Two college sophomores — a strawberry blonde and a brunette — tore out of their Texas college town in a little Toyota Corolla. I was the brunette. (That was several hair colors ago.) The strawberry blonde was my friend Susie. We had big plans. After a stop in my hometown of Beaumont, the two of us were headed to New Orleans.

When we rolled into the city a few days later, the eerie Cities of the Dead spread out underneath us as we crossed the freeways over New Orleans’ vast cemeteries. We drove through mid-afternoon downtown traffic, stopping for clusters of schoolchildren crossing streets in their blue-and-white plaid uniforms. Elegant aging buildings rose up from the congested streets, wrapped in ornate wrought-iron balconies. Despite its busyness, the city possessed a classic, graceful beauty.

We stayed with Susie’s parents in the Maison Dupuy on Toulouse Street, a couple of streets over from Bourbon Street. At night we walked with the crowds down Bourbon, equally repulsed and intrigued by the scene of one of America’s more hedonistic nightlife cultures. Even amid the French Quarter’s party atmosphere, a sweet, ghostly sadness seemed to linger. The city seemed to know that with beauty comes fragility.

Down St. Peter Street, we entered Preservation Hall and listened to the Dixieland jazz that had been played there since 1961. We sat so close to the band that I remember the clarinet dripping on Susie’s shoes.

We walked down Decatur to the world-famous Cafe du Monde, unaware of the fact that the plates of beignets were meant to be shared. Susie and I each ordered our own. That night in the hotel, I awoke to the feeling that the beignets were not going to stay down. I ran to the bathroom to find Susie sitting on the floor.

“I think I ate too many beignets,” she said.

Thankfully, our beignets stayed put, and we sat on the bathroom floor for an hour, laughing at the fact that while many French Quarter tourists tend to drink themselves sick, Susie and I had managed to overdo it on beignets.

That week, we stuffed ourselves with the best Cajun food in the world. We wondered about the mysterious establishments that were part of the city’s Voodoo culture. We ate real New Orleans Po-Boys. We were romanced by the contrasts that lay at the heart of the city’s aura — seedy strip clubs and historic churches that undoubtedly shared the same clientele. New Orleans was a proud city then — proud of its beauty as well as its filth. Both aspects blended to make the city what she was: a place of grime and grace; revelry and redemption.

Last week’s hurricane has brought the debate over whether New Orleans should rebuild. I hope it does. I want to go back and walk its haunted streets. I want to eat too many beignets. I want to see proof that once again, the strongest human desire is to overcome.

That’s something I can get my mind around.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Really annoyed

Everything turned out OK for the people staying at my neighbor's house. Walgreen's pharmacy here was very helpful and both women had what they needed by the end of the day.

Here's what's getting to me. The website of the Baytown newspaper has a discussion forum, and we were all posting ways to help hurricane evacuees. I posted, a website where you can offer your home as shelter to storm victims. I'm sorry, but there are so many paranoid idiots in my town. You'll see what I mean if you go to this thread.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rx from God?

The need here is just overwhelming. I saw a sign on my neighbor's mailbox that said "Welcome! We love you!" I figured they are keeping Katrina victims at their house. So I called and asked if I could bring them dinner or something. Turns out one woman is diabetic and needs insulin and her sister is on several medications for depression, etc. that she needs right away. They found out they had to leave on Saturday and couldn't get prescriptions refilled. The second woman is from Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, so who knows if her doctor's office is even still standing. So I called an elder from our church (who has a knack for getting ANYTHING for ANYONE at ANY TIME) and he's going to Walgreens to try to talk them into giving them these medications without a prescription. I think because of the nature of the prescriptions, this might even be illegal, but this woman HAS to have them. We really need God to intervene here!