Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm sorry in advance.

When I went to Wal-Mart to buy a noise machine to help with the train incident mentioned here, a man in a wheelchair called me over as I got out of the car. Initially, I thought he was going to ask for money, and after living in Chicago, I NEVER give money to panhandlers. To my great surprise, instead of asking for money, he said, "Would you mind picking me up some food? I live outside and would really love a bag of grapes or something." I told him I would absolutely do that for him.

As I walked through the store, my mind was filling with all of the other things I should also get him. Knowing that he is in a wheelchair and doesn't have a fridge or pantry, I decided it would be best to limit my purchases to just a couple things. 

When I left the store and walked back to my car, the man was nowhere to be found and was very disappointed. I was putting his food in my car when I heard someone yelling, "I'm right here ma'am! The manager ran me off." Never mind all of the creeps inside who aren't buying a thing, let's run off the needy man in the parking lot who is politely asking for food and not harassing a single person. I gave him his bag and he was so appreciative. 

This whole situation really touched me. I have offered food to panhandlers before only for them to turn it down claiming dietary restrictions or that they simply "didn't like it." Living in Chicago, I lived at a 5-points intersection where the same panhandlers would sit on their respective corner every single day, most of them with some sort of an ailment. One night, I heard a lot of commotion and saw one of the corner's regulars, who had a bum leg, drunk and fighting with two guys in a BMW only to have his son run out from the house ACROSS THE STREET and drag him home.  Oh yeah, his limp appeared to have been cured too. I could go on and on with stories of terrible encounters with Chicago panhandlers (this was just a more tame tale).

There were several newspaper articles about how panhandlers would take the train in to the city from their homes in the suburbs and earn over 6 figures a year preying on the tourists. Then two days ago, I read a story about a pregnant woman in California with her young son who would panhandle and then get in their new Mercedes counting their money as they moved on to another corner. 

I don't believe that all panhandlers are frauds, but unfortunately most seem to be. Houston seems to have just as many as Chicago did. They are at practically every intersection. Under I-10 by my house, you will see the same people there for about a week or so, and then a new crop will show up. Rumor has it that a group in town will hire people from the homeless shelter to stand on the corner and then take a cut of their earnings at the end of the day. 

I don't really know where I am going with this post. My original idea was to crack a joke about how the man at Wal-Mart was a genius and that maybe I should start grocery shopping that way (it just might get weird when I request things like a 20 lb turkey), but this has obviously taken a turn. 

During this sudden cold front, all I can think about is that man. I hope he has somewhere warm to sleep. I hope he is a good, honest man who is just down on his luck and will find help soon. Mostly, I just hope I haven't been conned once again so I can restore a little faith in humanity.

Thanks for indulging me. Sorry this wasn't funny.

Debbie Downer

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chugga, Chugga, Shut the Hell Up!

I need to know who I should contact to file a formal complaint. Lately, the trains that run about a mile from our house have decided it is necessary to blow their whistles as loud and as much as possible beginning at 2am and continuing until close to 5am.


For the life of me, I can't figure out why this is necessary. Here are some of my top theories:

1. There is a nightly parade from 2-5 each night, and they have to clear the tracks.

2. The Caribou scenario from Polar Express is taking place.

3. The conductor is having trouble in his marriage and needs some attention.

4. The people who work the night shift have requested a wake-up call.

5. Obama has made an executive order demanding this practice.

6. They hate me.

I bought a sound machine for Davis' room because the first night he woke up 2 or 3 times. Guess how happy that made me. Mama needs her sleep!

So, if you know someone with the railroad commission, please forward me their contact information so I can draft a strongly worded letter. The long and short of the letter will be, "Shut the F#$k up! If someone or something is dumb enough to be on train tracks at 2am and can't see you coming, they deserve what they get. We can call it natural selection!"   

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Halloween was quite the event in the Callaway house this year. Davis decided he HAD to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Not only a ninja turtle, but the Pur-po one. He and I had never once even talked about TMNT, so I have zero idea where he learned about them. Probably school...that's what I blame for everything now.

Since Davis had never watched TMNT, I let him tune into the cartoon and quickly decided it is far too violent for a 2.5 year old. I might be ready to let him watch it again in about 5 years. 

I didn't see much harm in letting him dress as a turtle though so I turned to my BFF, Amazon Prime, and found a costume, t-shirts for Steve and I, and plastic versions of each turtle's weapon (again, maybe not the best idea).

Leading up to Halloween, Davis wanted to play with the weapons and immediately started beating the crap out of us, the furniture, and the walls. Those were quickly confiscated for fear that he would seriously injure the nanny. She is such a push-over when it comes to him, that she would probably just sit there and take the abuse too.

Sizing for this costume was a little challenging. The toddler size came in 2T-4T, and Davis is barely a 2T. I went ahead and ordered the infant size so he wouldn't have extra fabric dragging on the ground and inevitably tripping him, and an extreme moose-knuckle resulted. 

You can't get the full effect in this picture, but it gives you a little taste.

I think if Halloween had been even a week later, we would have had to do some serious adjustments to the costume.

He had 2 Halloween parties at school where he wore his costume and then trick-or-treating on the big day. It was so nice to actually get our money out of it this year. 

He had such a blast trick-or-treating with his friends! If only we could get him to control is bow staff.

His pace was a bit slow, as usual, but I think he got more candy than any other kid. This little con-artist made a habit of pouting at the door after he was given candy until his mark (the homeowner) gave him more candy. Thanks for reinforcing bad behavior guys! 

Near the end of the night, he started to fade a bit and we still had about 6 more houses, so we dipped into his spoils and he quickly bounced back. 

Speaking of bouncing back...that's what I'm going to work on next since I can't control myself around all of this Halloween candy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Greed will get you nowhere....well this time at least

Steve and Davis went up last weekend to check on the progress of the ranch house while I was busy judging a beauty pageant for my rodeo committee. Yes, you read that correctly...I'll have to write more about that another time.

Anyway, (Stop distracting me! I'm trying to tell a story!) these are the latest shots of the progress:

If you are thinking to yourself, "Gee self, it sure doesn't seem like a ton was accomplished. Especially since Kristi said the roof and siding would be done this week." then you would be correct.

It has come to our attention that our framing crew decided mid-job that they would like more money. Isn't that nice? I mean the whole idea of finishing a job you have committed to is highly over-rated anyway. I'm going to try this method the next time I sign on for a job and see how it works out for me. 

Actually, on second thought, maybe I won't because it will probably end up the same way it did for this crew...they have found themselves without a job. 

Our builder has another crew who is finishing a job and should be over ASAP.

I just hope this won't set back our plans to stain the floors this weekend. Want a sneak peek of the color?

It should look something like this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I wanted to share a new service I found that I really like. I'm always looking for easy ways to shop since I loathe the mall, so if you have any tips for me, pass them along. Pretty please!

I spotted a Facebook ad (yes, they actually work sometimes) for a company selling jeans through the mail and offer long lengths. Needless to say this caught my attention.

***Oh my gosh, as I was typing that last sentence, the nanny came running in my room saying Davis was climbing out of his crib. Good thing the conversion kit came in today.

OK, back to the jeans. I ordered two pair and really like the quality and material. I had a little issue with the fit only because I have a smaller waist and a big booty, so I will need to have the waist taken in. Also, due to my booty problem, the low-rise is a little too low for me so I am exchanging them for the higher-waisted option.  These fit problems are very minimal for me due to my height and inability to ever find jeans that aren't $300.

Speaking of price, these are in the $65-$85 range, which is really reasonable considering how they look.  The fabric is a little lightweight so they will be great year-round in the south.

The return policy is super easy.  They just include a prepaid shipping label and a bag when they send them to you, so all I have to do is drop them at the post office.

Anyhoo, I am in no way affiliated with DSTLD, I just like what I have seen so far and wanted to share the wealth.

I just looked and I have two $25 gift cards to give away with my account, so if you want to try the service let me know and I will send you one.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Little Game of Eye Spy

We went to the ranch on Saturday to check the progress of the house and meet with the builder. They had only been framing for 24 hours and were making great progress.  

As soon as we drove up, I noticed something that made me unhappy, to say the least. See if you can spot what it might be.

These are the beams that will be on the front and back porches. They are pretty awesome.


I swear they haven't forgotten to do the middle. The living area will all be one big open space with vaulted ceilings that will be 18' in the middle. The front and the back of the house will be 99% glass.  It will definitely be the highlight of the house.  

From this view, the framing on the right is for two bedrooms and a bathroom. The left is the master bedroom, master bath, and mud room. The mud room was #1 on my "must haves" list. There will be a great bench to sit on to take off your dirty shoes and everyone will have a cubby to store them in. Let's see how long that will last.

This is the view from the front porch looking out into the meadow. 

Can anyone guess what I was upset about yet? 

This is the back porch. Steve had the builders extend the slab so we can have an uncovered area for a fire pit. Well, that's what he wants. I want an area to lay out and work on my tan.

Laying on the slab are the sliding doors for the front and back.

They. Are. Huge. (and awesome)

Here are the views from the back porch. Tranquil.

 The guest bedroom will be on the rear of the house and Davis' room will be on the front. We plan to build a really long table to have on the back porch and will probably eat most of our meals out there.

The master side. The door to the mud room is on the right side of the slab. The kitchen will be on the back of the house sharing a wall with the mud room.

We are going to simply stain the concrete slab for our flooring. This is a ranch house, no one has time for carpet.

Here is the view from the front porch all the way around. The hunter's cabin is right past those trees. 

This is straight off the front porch. Holler when you see the proverbial thorn in my side.

This is the last view from the front porch. Steve's parent's house is on the other side of those trees. It's nice that we are able to at least feel secluded.

All of our windows. Our builder said he has 'window envy' and told his wife they need to replace theirs. I could never be a builder; I would need a new house every year to keep up with all of the goodies my clients had.

So, that's it.  Construction is so much more fun when you don't have to do it yourself!

The framing should be done by the end of this week, then the plumber and electricians will do their thing, and then we will go up in 2 weeks to stain the floors before they hang the drywall. We figured less prep work would be required this way and the floors would be sealed in case anything spilled on them. Internet research has caused me sleepless nights when it comes to all of the things that can leave marks and ruin your floors.

If you weren't able to guess what has my blood at a rolling boil, let me help you out.

That thing is no more than 30 yards off the front of my porch. You know, the porch that you can see through the windows that make up THE ENTIRE FRONT OF THE HOUSE. It has added so much to our view. 

I am still so angry I can't really talk about it yet. I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus and say who trenched the ditch for the power line and thought that would be a great place for the utility box, but I will say that it has affected our marriage the last couple days. In his defense, no one would have expected the power company to set a box outside that would support an entire street, but still horrible planning. 

Now I have to think of a clever way to hide it. Because it sits out in the open, I'm afraid planting bushes will look awkward. I suggested a nice water feature but am not sure how safe that would be on a power box. Any suggestions??? I am DESPERATE for solutions. 

If we can't think of anything, I will be forced to paint it orange and blue.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back to my roots.

A few months ago, as we were driving away from the ranch (not my favorite place), I finally gave in to the reality that has become my life and had this conversation with Steve:

Me: I have come to the realization that neither the ranch nor I are going anywhere anytime soon, so we have to learn to co-exist.

Steve: Welcome to the real world.

Me: I think the only way I could really be comfortable staying up there, and taking Davis overnight, would be if we had our own place. Nothing fancy, just a little place that could be ours.

Now rewind with me just a little bit. I have been saying that I want to paint the inside of our house, take up the carpet and put down wood on the second floor, redo our bedroom, etc for months but have been told that now wasn't a great time financially.

I have this ONE, SINGLE conversation with Steve about the ranch and wouldn't you know, they poured the slab for our new house last week. Within 2 weeks of that conversation, an architect was working on plans, Steve was looking into builders, I was looking for decorating ideas on Pinterest; things were underway.

I'm not complaining or resenting this project though. We have already decided that our bedroom furniture and several other pieces will go to the ranch, so I get to do some decorating here at home!

Since this blog began when we were renovating our rental house, I feel like I have come full circle and this can be the Tool Belt Chronicles again.  Huzzah!

I will try to post pictures when I can, but because the ranch is 2 hours away and we are busy, I won't have regular updates like I did with the last renovation. Maybe I will leave a camera up there with our worker (and Davis' favorite person) so he can document the progress.

About a week ago, a friend from college posted an article on Facebook that said two spaces after periods are now obsolete. Please know that I just went through and removed all of the extra spaces.

I'm trying to stay hip to the times.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Winter Has Come!

Well, not really, but Davis is all about Frozen all the time.

He puts his blanket around his shoulders and tells me he is Elsa.

He runs around the house yelling for Christoph.

Contrary to the last video (how embarrassing), he knows most of the words to the songs.

(You will need to turn up your volume for this one....he's not one to show off.)
(Also, that isn't your oven going off, it was mine telling me it was ready for my fritatta to go in.)

He holds our eyelids open and asks, "Do you wanna build a snowman??"

Then yesterday I saw him laying on the ground with his arms stretched out saying, "I can't!  The sky's awake!"

He is also convinced that thunder comes from this guy:

I thought with a boy we would avoid all of this...

What the what????

I was putting pictures in a different post and something happened.  Look at this:

Those were a bunch of individual photos that have magically been transformed into these little clips.  I would love to take credit and let you all believe I am clever enough to do this on my own, but if even one of you were to ask me how I did it, I couldn't even make something up.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Recently, Davis has been complaining that his room is scary and his window is scary. He is in a "scary" phase.  Music on the radio is scary...even soft ballads, the front door is scary, toys are scary, mommy is scary when she's angry.  None of those, except for the last one, are scary at all.  Given all of that, when he repeatedly tells me his room and window are scary, I think he is being dramatic and tell him there is nothing to be afraid of.

For the last month or two, we have been finding poop on our back patio (directly downstairs from Davis' window) and have no idea who is putting it there.

I'm no poop specialist, but I can tell that it is coming from a small animal like the size of a cat or raccoon.  It is usually in his kiddie pool which is full of water since it has been raining a lot, (before you can ask, yes I clean it with soap before I let him play in it) so that had me doubting that the mystery pooper was a cat. I mean, honestly, would a cat poop in water?  How would he even do that?  Do cats know how to hover?  I guess if it was a girl cat, it might know how, but what if it was a boy cat?  If a cat pooped in water, would it kick the water to try to cover it's poop the way it does kitty litter?  I have so many questions!

OK, fast forward to last night.  Annoyed with my drama-queen of a son, Steve and I laid in bed watching TV and heard what sounded like a cat being killed slowly.  It wasn't dying a quiet death either.  I'm surprised you couldn't hear it at your house...even those of you reading this from India.  (Yes, I have international readers....this blog is a really big deal.)  It was this loud, low-pitched, howl/meow.  I remember, when I was a kid, my cat used to give that meow when he wanted to be left alone, was being threatened by another cat, or was just being an a-hole, as cats can often be.  Just another reason I love cats; I get them.

It sounded like the dying cat was outside of our window, but Steve got up to investigate and said it was coming from the back yard.  Could this be the mystery pooper?  Was he wanting privacy while pooping?  Was he telling another cat to scram so he could drop the kids off at the pool (literally in this case)?  Does he need more fiber in his diet and was having a tough time at it?

No matter the reason, now I feel like the a-hole because I have been ignoring my 2 year old's fears of his window, meanwhile he is living above what appears to be a feline torture chamber.

Still killing it as a mom 365!  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Parenting 101

Lately I have been knocking it out of the park with my parenting.  I am just waiting for the phone call from the powers that be offering me a book deal to share my parenting secrets.  I don't think it would be too much to say my son is extremely lucky to have me.

Before my major book deal (I'm thinking a series of about 3-4 books) comes in, I thought I would share some of my most recent parenting wins with you, my friends.

Teaching your child to eat a balanced and healthy diet is incredibly important.

Yep, that's Chick-fil-a sauce he is eating directly off his finger.  I stopped the 
video just before he picked up the container and attempted to drink it.  

Killing it over here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Please don't be intimidated by my intellegence

Every once and awhile, I wonder what my IQ is and I immediately take to the internet to find out.  This happened to me a couple weeks ago, so I found a test online and took it quickly, and honestly, quite flippantly. 

In about 7 minutes, I had completed what I will defend as a very credible IQ test with a score of...

wait for it...143!

I knew that was good, but I didn't know how good, so my good buddy Google and I were off to solve another mystery.  Turns out, the threshold of entering "genius" standings is at 145.  Had I counted the number of rectangles a second time rather than getting annoyed and just guessing, I would have been there!

High on life, and apparently superior intelligence, I couldn't wait for Steve to get home so I could share the news. 

Now he wanted to take it.  Little did I know this would turn into a 1 hour, pen and paper exam.  I should have guessed it wasn't going to go great when on the very first question he says to me, "I just don't understand what the hot tub on the page means" and I had to answer, "babe, that's an ad..." 

I won't tell you his exact score.  It was respectable (although not accurate because I helped him with one), but we now know who really has the brains in the family. 

Good thing he's cute.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Amber Alert: Missing Mommies

Last weekend, Maura and I were both feeling like we needed a break from our real lives and were ferociously texting about it.  Then, her husband, whom I'm not completely convinced is real life, suggested that she see if I wanted to go get a glass of wine, because she needed a break.  Say whaaaaat????

Maura approached me with this offer and I began strategizing just the right time to tell Steve I was getting out of dodge for a couple hours.  I got him set with dinner and said, "Maura wants to get a glass of wine" and ran upstairs to get ready. 

Sometimes a girl just needs some vino, fatty foods, and a good friend to vent with. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's Rodeo Time!

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is back!  Maura, her husband, their daughter, Davis and I went last week in the morning so we could beat the crowds.  Too bad all of the field trip groups had the same idea.  Nothing particularly thrilling or funny happened.  Just a good time with the babes.  Here are some pictures: