Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Snowed under

I wish it were the real kind of snow. I have so much work to do this week that I can hardly breathe. Today I have to do two interviews and get two 1,000-word features turned in. I also need to line up interviews for four more articles that are due by the end of the week. I have four kid-free hours today. Did you hear me? FOUR! I'm grateful for the work, especially since we are about to make the rather major purchase of a HOUSE, but I always look forward to hitting the "Send" button on the last article.

As busy as I am this week, I've managed to get a Target date! My new friend Lee Ann and I are going after school on Thursday. (After experiencing Target with Jenna, Lee Ann might like to become my new EX-friend.) I've ordered some 5x7 black-and-white prints of the girls to put on our new fireplace mantel. I'm also getting one of the new silver letter sets to put on the mantel with the pictures. Either this one:

Or this one:

The letter sets are for Valentine's Day but I think they will work year-round. I'm leaning towards "SWEET" because it's five letters and odd-numbered groups of things look better. Yep, I watch my TLC!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Oh, how I love Target...

This post may seem silly and pathetic to some people but moms will understand.

Last night I reached a Target nirvana and I didn't even have to go there.

Let me back up. When I was pregnant with Jenna, I registered for the Tiddliwinks Blossom collection for her nursery. It was a pink/lavender/green/yellow butterfly and flower pattern that is very cute and girly. I had a great shower and got everything in the collection -- a quilt, blankets, crib sheets, a valance, rug, switchplate and plush butterflies to hang on the wall.

After Jenna was born, I kept going to Target to see if they had anything else in the line and found out that the entire collection was being discontinued. I was kinda sad because it is so cute but I had pretty much everything so it didn't really matter.

Fast forward 2.5 years. We are about to transition Jenna out of her crib and we need bedding for her daybed that's in storage. Last night I was fighting a headache that was threatening to become a migraine, so I had taken some drugs that were going to help me sleep really well. We spent an hour or so at our new house yesterday afternoon so I had gotten all excited about decorating the girls' rooms. So I was looking through half-awake -- partly because I was looking for stuff and partly because I was too tired to get up and walk downstairs and go to bed.

And suddenly, THERE IT WAS!

The Blossom pattern in a twin-sized quilt and pillow sham! And...

...matching pillows!

But that's not all. They were 1) ON SALE and 2) you got a discount if you ordered it all together. So I did. We can keep the rug and switchplate and everything else that matches the pattern. And we're painting Jenna's new room mint green. She'll probably get so sick of pink and green butterflies that she'll end up in therapy BUT SHE'LL HAVE A CUTE ROOM FOR A LONG TIME!

I'm telling you, you haven't lived until you've experienced an online Target shopping spree in a semi-conscious state.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Home again

A lot has happened in the last couple of days. We looked at a house on Monday that we really liked but it was a little out of our price range. We made an offer anyway, expecting the seller to come back with a counter offer since our offer was several thousand below the asking price. So we were pretty shocked when the seller accepted our offer just the way it was! They had moved out of state and were ready to get out from under it. The house isn't that big -- 1535 square feet -- but it is a mansion to us because we have never lived in anything so nice and new. Our last house was built in 1952. Rock 'n' roll wasn't even invented yet. This house was built in 2000. Seriously, not since the birth of Jenna -- who we had after three miscarriages -- and not since we were given our Suburban by some wonderfully generous relatives of ours, have I felt so deeply humbled by a blessing. Today on the way home from my Wednesday Bible study, I pulled up in the driveway of the house and just sat there telling Jenna, "This is OUR house, Jenna!"

It's not officially ours until Feb. 26, when we close. My plan after closing is to head straight to Sonic, then to the house for a picnic on the living room floor.

Chad has more pictures of the house on the Jan. 23 post of his blog.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This Whacked-Out House

Chad and I are starting to look at houses and we found one online that I have to share with you.

Seems like your average brick house, doesn't it?

Why don't we take this opportunity to share some tips on interior decor? Like paint color, for instance. There are a couple of ways you can pick paint colors. You can look through magazines, visit other homes and thoughtfully craft together colors that will complement your home and reflect your personal tastes.

Or you can smoke a lot of crack and then head on down to Sherwin-Williams to pick out your colors:

If you could see a migraine, this is what it would look like:

Want a nice, relaxing bath? Then you'd better go next door, because it ain't gonna happen here.

Needless to say, we did NOT make an offer.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Please help me.

Julia wants a Hannah Montana birthday party on Feb. 3. She's wanting all the usual stuff -- plates, cups, etc. with the Hannah Montana theme and I just can't find it anywhere. I don't think anyone even makes it. The party is at a skating rink so I figure they can skate around to the Hannah Montana CD and I can probably get someone to make a Hannah Montana cake. I just wondered if anyone has run across any other HM stuff that would work. Even some Hannah Montana stickers to put on the invites would be nice.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mom Jeans

Poetry Time

And now for some cold-weather haiku:

I just can't get warm
My bottom has frozen off
If found, please return


Coats on, we're leaving
But toddler filled her diaper
We'll be very late


Toddler walked outside
Wearing only her nightgown
Neighbor glares at me

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Outted Elton John

I've been laughing all day about the dream I had last night. I'm sitting on a park bench in London with Elton John. We are great friends and talking away about everything.

"So -- when are you and the husband going to retire?" I ask him.

He looks nervously around and says, "Shh! No one knows I'm gay," he says.

I say, "Are you kidding me? Sure they do."

"No, they don't," he says.

"Dude, listen to me," I say. "The whole world knows you're gay."

"Are you serious?" he asks.

Then Julia woke me up by sitting on me, and I was so disappointed because I really wanted to see how the conversation was going to end up.

On an entirely different note, I've been wanting to blog about our visit with Lois, my best Baytown girlfriend, and her husband Bill, who is the coolest elder ever. Here's a pic of Lois and me at her house.

The girls and I hung out at Bill and Lois's for an afternoon during Christmas break. This is Bill and Jenna reading a book. Those who know Bill know this about him: he'll either tell it to you or read it to you, but he's ALWAYS got a story.

Lois and Julia. (And Lois's dog Mitzi, who Julia is terrified of. Even though she's smiling, you can see the terror in her eyes in this picture.)

Lois is quite the interior decorator:

Hanging out with Lois is one of the things I miss the most about Baytown. We met for lunch at least once a week (and Target expeditions.) Strangers who would see us out in public would think Bill and Lois were our kids' grandparents. After a while, I quit correcting them and just let them think that. The funny thing is that Bill and Lois's real-life grandkids are grown up and married.

Bill and Lois's friendship has been such a blessing to us and we look forward to spend more time with them this summer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chaos, Inc.

Here are some of the things that have happened at our house in the last 24 hours:

1) After mopping the kitchen floor yesterday (which somehow caused the mop to break) and making a burrito for lunch, I knocked the Pace picante sauce lid onto the floor, causing the sauce in the lid to splatter all over the not-even-dry floor.

2) After cleaning that up, I put the lid back on the LARGE jar of Pace (that I had bought the night before) and went to put it in the fridge. The jar slipped right out of my hands onto the kitchen floor. I would spend the next 45 minutes picking glass shards out of the huge puddle of picante sauce and figuring out how to clean up the mess now that my mop was broken.

3) After that, I cleaned up the living room and carefully, CAREFULLY reached for Julia's Razor scooter to put it up -- knowing full well that I get hurt every time I touch that thing. Despite my cautious efforts, the handlebars swung around and nailed me in the kneecap. (My motor skills were so out of whack yesteday that I was seriously worried that I had suffered a stroke during the night.)

4) Yesterday, Jenna apparently dumped her crayons out on top of the air vent in her room. So while the heater ran last night, crayons melted to the air vent and dripped down inside the duct.

Chad doesn't even know about that last one yet.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My Worst Boss Ever

I'm several chapters into "The Devil Wears Prada" (given to me by Lois, my very hip best Baytown girlfriend) and I have been inspired to blog about my very own Worst Boss Ever.

(Mike Cope and Mark Meador, relax. It's not either of you.)

To protect the innocent, and to protect myself should the guy Google his own name and find this, I will refer to him throughout this post as "WBE," for "Worst Boss Ever." I'm also going to be vague about the name of newspaper and town, but those of you who know me already know that stuff.

Chad and I moved to a certain town in August of 1995 for Chad to do grad work at a certain university. I got a job at the local newspaper as a copy editor. Here I was, at a job using my college degree, making seven bucks an hour. I had just left a job as a church secretary -- not using my degree -- where I made $7.50 an hour. Yes, something was wrong with this picture, and it wasn't just the paycheck, as I was about to find out.

The copy desk chief was a girl named "M," who ended up being one of my really good friends. I had a bit of a warning of what was to come on my first day, when M told me that the copy editor whose place I was taking quit because of the editor's temper.

But when I met WBE, he seemed like a nice guy. He was British but had grown up in Canada, and had a British accent (yes, like the boss in "The Devil Wears Prada.") WBE liked me right off. I'm not sure why, but the whole time I worked there, only one of his tirades was directed at me. (Something I'll get to later.) This is probably one reason why I lasted six months instead of the two- or three-month tenure that was typical among this newspaper's copy editors at the time.

I soon found out that WBE's nice side was only half of his personality. He was either pleasant and chipper or mad as heck about something. When you came into work every day you never knew which side of him you were going to encounter. If there had been a typo on the front page, he might laugh it off. Or he might hold you hostage in his office until he was done yelling at you. I was spared a lot of this because he liked me so much, but I had to watch him do it to other people. One woman named Mary was one of the other copy editors. She was older and had always had a dream of working at a newspaper. She raised her kids, put them through college and scraped together money (she didn't have much) to get her journalism degree. Her job at this paper was her first out of college and I hated watching the way WBE treated her. He would yell at her over stuff that wasn't even a huge deal and then would seem so satisfied with himself after he reduced her to tears. This happened several times a week. I remember more details about this but I just can't bring myself to type them.

At this job, I quickly learned that taking breaks was not allowed. Even going to the restroom was risky if WBE happened to be looking for you. He used to send female staffers into the restroom to get M if that's where she happened to be when he needed to yell at her. Reporters who were staring into space at their computers -- lost in thought over the wording of a lead -- would get yelled at for "daydreaming." And even though we copy editors worked from 3 p.m. to 11 or 12, getting dinner was always tricky. Going somewhere to eat was out of the question. Technically, we could eat in the break room. But if the WBE (or the city editor, his evil sidekick) happened to see us in there and then the paper was late that night, we heard about it the next day. ("Well, I saw Deana in the break room last night so that must be why the paper was late.") So we usually ate at our desks with one hand while scrolling through the wire or editing obituaries with the other hand.

WBE also threatened to kill people. A lot. One day one of our reporters had gone to a neighboring town to cover a murder trial. It turned out WBE needed the reporter to be covering something else but didn't have a way to reach him (cell phones were still new and we didn't have them yet.) When he finally got the reporter on the phone, WBE yelled, "I'm going to kill you. Don't come back to the office because I will kill you." He threatened people with death on a daily basis. We almost wished one of us would wind up dead in a dumpster because then the entire newsroom staff could all testify at the trial: "Why, yes, your Honor, I heard him threaten to kill that person every single day." We could have put him away for life.

On Halloween night, WBE was having a party at his house. I had to stay at the office until the paper was done -- about 10:30 or 11 p.m. -- and was not planning on going. I was exhausted from the stress-filled days and late nights and I just wanted to go home. While I was waiting to check the first-run copies of the next day's edition, one of our photographers, "B," was gathering up his equipment and asked if I was going to the party.

"No, I'm really tired and I think I'm just going to go home," I answered.

B put down his stuff, walked over to me and put his face just a few inches from mine.

"Deana, go to the party. If you don't go, you'll get no end of grief from WBE. Trust me, you want to go to this party," he said.

There was no trace of "I'm just kidding" on B's face. He was dead serious. So I called Chad and we reluctantly went to a very boring party at WBE's house.

The next day, I watched as WBE cornered all the poor, unsuspecting souls who had missed his party. Thank you, B, for saving me on that one.

Those of us in the newsroom operated in survival mode and learned to watch out for each other like that. Once on one of my days off, I got a call from another copy editor.

"Don't answer your phone. M just got fired and WBE's probably going to call you into work," she whispered from a newsroom phone.

So I didn't answer my phone the rest of the day. But I was sad that M, the copy desk chief who had become my good friend, had been fired. Nevertheless, she was at work when I went in the next day. Turns out WBE didn't really fire her. Firing people was like making his death threats -- it was just something he said when he got mad.

Almost daily, WBE would unleash a torrent of rage on everyone in the newsroom. He usually ended these fits by yelling, "I don't care if you don't like me! It's not my job to make you like me! It's my job to run this newspaper!" On a few of these occasions, he would call me into his office. I would sit there and he would ask me over and over, almost in tears, "Deana, why doesn't anyone like me? Am I that terrible?"

I was one of the very few people on staff who didn't drink or smoke. But believe me, I was thinking about starting.

Every single day was so stressful I came home completely worn out. I was late to work most days just because I had to sit in the parking lot for a while to gather my courage to go in. I started getting sick a lot and developing pain in my neck. I went to the doctor several times and he never found anything. I was discovering how stress can affect your body. I started desperately looking around for another job. And WBE hadn't even blown up at me yet.

That would come the day our press broke down and we were having to use the press at a newspaper in a nearby town. We had to have our paper off the press in time for the other paper's deadline, so we were all called in to work early so we could get the paper out five hours ahead of our usual deadline. I didn't really mind this. These things happen in the newspaper business.

So I got to work early and WBE was in a happy mood, thanking everyone for coming in early and working extra hard to get the paper out. Then he offered to order pizza for everyone and asked me to call it in. I called Pizza Hut and ordered a bunch of pepperoni pizzas. I figured everyone liked pepperoni and, with everyone working so hard, I didn't want to take the time to go around and ask everyone what they wanted. As I was ordering over the phone, WBE walked by and heard what I ordered.

"Pepperoni?" he asked. "No mushrooms and black olives?"

"I still have the pizza guy on the phone," I said. "I can change it if you want."

"No, no. That's OK." WBE said. "Pepperoni is fine."

As soon as I hung up, all hell broke loose.


He was kind of yelling at me, but he was also yelling at everyone else in the room. He kept going on and on about how ungrateful we were, and how mushrooms and black olives really weren't too much to ask for, and why couldn't he ever get anything he wanted around here, and so on. Finally M sneaked away into an office, grabbed the phone, hid under a desk and called Pizza Hut back and changed the order.

Newsroom staff members had had enough of this kind of thing and were quitting in droves. Reporters and copy editors only lasted a couple of months. One of our sharpest reporters quit and told us "When he gets fired, call me and I'll come back."

I kept thinking back to where I was working a few months earlier. I worked in Abilene at the Highland Church of Christ office. We had our share of stress, but they were things worth stressing over, like the series of tragedies that our church family had encountered the year I worked there. There was no yelling or cursing or pointless tirades (at least on Mike Cope's days off. HA HA -- that's a joke.) I loved everyone I worked with and always looked forward to being there every day. All of that seemed light years away now.

After six months, I finally landed a job in production at a publishing company across town. I put in my two-weeks' notice and WBE begged me not to go. I didn't care. I almost skipped out the door on my last night. Everyone who was there when I first started -- including M, who left for another newspaper job -- were long gone. I had been there the longest of anyone in the newsroom, and I had only been there six months.

A few months later, WBE got fired. I heard about how hurt he was that no one called to check on him when it happened. He moved on to another job and last I heard, he was working on a novel. I think that's code for "I'm so insane that no one will hire me."

And that reporter who said she'd be back after WBE left? She did come back. She's the managing editor now.

The sad thing is that I loved some aspects of this job. I loved having access to the AP wire. I knew that Yitzhak Rabin had been assassinated minutes after it happened. I loved breaking a big story across the top of the front page and seeing the headline I had written for it beaming from newsstands all over town the next day. And I loved, more than anything, watching the press run at night. A big roll of paper goes in one end of this amazing piece of machinery, and a folded newspaper comes out the other end. I never got tired of watching it. But none of this was worth what WBE was putting me and everyone else through every day. There's that old saying about how winners never quit and quitters never win, but the truth is that sometimes quitting is the best thing you can do for yourself. I worked at my next job at the publishing company for a year-and-a-half, and I had my share of stress there, but every day felt like a day off just because I didn't have to walk into that newsroom and face WBE.

So that's my story. If you ask me, the devil is a short British man who is "working on a novel."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Giraffe panties

Today I bought panties for a giraffe. This is such a rare occasion that I would like to say it over and over. You probably don't get to say these words together very often either, so please join in:

Giraffe panties.
Giraffe panties.
Giraffe panties.

Julia and I dropped Jenna off at my mom's school and went to do "big girl shopping," which included a stop at Build-a-Bear for an early birthday present. Julia has been wanting the giraffe for a while now, especially since proceeds from the sale benefit the World Wildlife Fund. She named the giraffe "Savannah" and picked out a fashionable ensemble for it, including a shirt, jeans and -- of course -- panties. Heaven forbid this giraffe get in a car accident and not be wearing proper undergarments. Savannah also has a cell phone.

We also went to Barnes & Noble three times today. We just sort of kept winding up there. I got a magazine that has two of my articles in it ("Success from Home" magazine -- with the business magazines -- the "EcoQuest" issue).

I believe I'm emotionally stable enough to blog about our Baytown trip yesterday. First, on the way to Julia's old school, we drove past our old house. The weather was pretty yucky yesterday, so don't think our house always looked this gloomy. See the really long driveway? Julia and her friends used to cover it with sidewalk chalk. It was also great for bicycle and scooter rides without having to get out in the street.

This was my friend Jennifer's house. Her husband and two girls still live there. In fact, I talked to Tommy yesterday. Jennifer planted the rosebush by the mailbox before she died of cancer in 2004.

Go, Travis Tigers! And update your sign!

The girls are wreaking havoc on my parents' living room, so I'll finish the day later.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


The girls and I went back to Baytown for the last time today and had lunch with Julia's friends at her old school. Then we went by The Baytown Sun (where Jenna was AWFUL) and then to Lois and Bill's house. The bad thing about going back and visiting a place is that you get sad all over again. I fought tears all the way back to my parents' house. When we pulled into my parents' driveway I looked back at Julia and she was sitting there with tears streaming down her face. So we got out and sat in the front yard and cried and my mom came out and said "Um...are you guys OK?"

I got pics of Bill and Lois and our old neighborhood that I'll post later. Right now I need Target.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Houston happenings

Sunday morning we were at my parents' church. At the beginning of the service, Ronnie Norman, the pulpit minister, got up and introduced himself. This prompted Jenna to wave and yell, "Hi, Ronnie!"

So how did I bring in the new year? By watching in fascination as my cell phone screen switched to a new color, which it does every month. Everyone else here was asleep, and Chad left earlier in the day to go to NCYM in Colorado Springs. The conference doesn't actually start until tomorrow, so he reluctantly decided to fill in the extra time by skiing at Winter Park. Poor guy. He sacrifices so much.

Tomorrow my parents both go back to work so it's just me and the girls. I think we'll make another trip or two to Baytown since the one day we were there last week was so crazy that I didn't get to spend much time with my favorite people, like my best Baytown girlfriend, Lois. Julia's old school starts back this week, so we may go visit there, too.

Being back in Baytown was nice but weird, but not too weird. I was worried I might be tempted to curl up on our old front porch and sob for a day or so. But we had other things to do. Plus the current owners might have called the cops.