Consider This Your PSA

This past weekend one of our neighbors had a small kitchen fire. A sweet family lives there with a brand new baby, and I am sure it was quite frightening for them. The husband is a police officer, so he had a pretty good bit of support from his fellow officers. And by a pretty good bit of support, I mean a firetruck, an ambulance and seven police cars all showed up . . . for a small kitchen fire. Not only did our street become a scene from a SWAT movie, you could also hear their smoke alarm beeping all the way down to our house, seven houses away. Needless to say, it took a little bit of conversation to explain all of that to the girls.

We reassured them everyone was safe. We reassured them no one got hurt. We reassured them our house wasn't going to catch on fire. And we reassured them that if anything ever happened at our house, their "safe zone" was next door at our good friends, the Navarrete's, house.

I think we did a pretty great job calming them down. The only residual fear they seemed to have was related to the very loud smoke alarm.

So of course, wouldn't you know that last night at about 2:00 a.m., the battery in one of our smoke alarms went out and started doing that annoying chirping thing that happens. (And also, WHY IS IT that smoke alarm batteries only go out in the middle of the night?)

I woke Mike up, and he started doing the wait and hunt thing one does in the middle of the night when one has a random smoke alarm battery failure. Keep in mind also that Mike is partially deaf, so hearing that high-pitched sound was no easy feat for him.  He stood perfectly still, waited for the beep, ran to the location he thought it was in, waited again, and repeated this over and over again. Finally, after several minutes of beep and seek, he discovered the offending smoke alarm.

Any guesses as to where it was?

If you guessed the girl's bedroom, you'd be correct. I mean, of COURSE it was going to be in the girl's bedroom. It couldn't be in OUR bedroom, or any of the OTHER bedrooms, or a hallway or the kitchen. NOPE.

Fortunately, we do keep 9-Volt batteries on hand at all times, so we were prepared for the hell the demon smoke alarm had unleashed in our sleep. Mike went into the girls' room, calmly climbed the ladder with expert stealthiness, removed the battery and replaced it with the new one. He was like a ninja battery changer. I was quite impressed. The girls stirred a little, but Mike lovingly reassured them everything was okay.

But then, as though I was watching a car wreck in slow motion Mike popped the new battery back into it's place in the smoke alarm and said, "Don't worry girls, it's just the smmooooookealarrrrrrmmmmm." (use your slow motion voice).

The moment he mentioned the word smoke alarm, he was also plugging the new battery into the smoke alarm. I don't know if you know anything about smoke alarms, but when you unplug a battery and then replug one in, the entire system seems to reset itself by producing an EAR PIERCING AND CONSTANT BEEP, much like the one we heard from our neighbor's house.

Both girls flipped out, Mike jumped down from the ladder with his expert ninja battery changing skills, and flew to their bedside to reassure them. At the same time I was yelling, "It's just the smoke alarm, but our house is fine. Our house is NOT on fire! It's just the smoke alarm!" (I'm very calm in a crisis.)

Shannay, who can pretty much sleep through anything, rolled over and said, "What's happening?" as though she were awaking from a deep, deep sleep.

Unfortunately, poor Nikki, who is a very light sleeper, was not quite as reassured as we thought. At the sound of the words "smoke alarm" and the simultaneously LOUD BEEP as the system reset, and my somewhat loud "reassurance" that we weren't on fire, she did what any normal person does when scared half to death. She peed. A LOT. I mean, bed soaking, comforter soaking, child soaking, pee.

At 2:00 a.m.

All that to say, consider this your PSA and change the batteries in your smoke alarm. Today.

A Forever Date With Dad

Christina called to tell me she was going to be alone on Valentine's Day and wondered if I'd like to be her date. Since Mike and I don't normally go out on Valentine's Day, I told her that sounded like fun. To make the deal a little sweeter (get it . . . Valentine's Day . . . sweeter . . .) she said she'd watch the girls so Mike and I could go on a date on Friday!

I convinced Mike that this would be so perfect for all of us (I have my ways, you just don't worry about how I did the convincing, alright?), and Christina and I started planning our date.

Then I had this great idea. Since Mike and I have never really been "Valentine's Day" kind of peeps, I thought it would be a sweet tradition for him to take the girls out on a date every year for Valentine's Day.

My idea was that if he starts now, and it's something they do every year, when they are older and they either don't have a boyfriend OR some stupid boy has broken their heart, Valentine's Day will always be special to them because their dad has made it that way. And I suppose when they someday marry and their husband wants to take over the Valentine date, he can. :)

Does that make sense?

Mike officially called the girls and asked them out on a date. They were very excited about it, but weren't really sure what a "date" was.  Zack and Jacob had each taken the girls out on dates before, but that was quite a while ago, so their only frame of reference was that Mom and Dad go on dates and they get left at home. So the idea that they were going on a date with Dad seemed pretty exciting.

Mike took the girls out for a romantic dinner for three at Rudy's Barbecue (that man knows how to show a girl a good time), followed by a fun evening of toy browsing. Nikki and Shannay love to toy browse and are surprisingly good-natured about not purchasing anything.

I texted Mike in the middle of the date and asked him to be sure and take pictures, because, you know, he's a dad, and dads don't always think of those things. He started by sending me these pictures. (I'm guessing that at the moment I texted him they must have already been in the toy store.)

So then I texted him and said, "LOL. Be sure to take one of all three of you together." And here's what I received.

What's so great about this picture is A. He took it in our garage  B. It's blurry.   C. He's clearly having a good time trying to make me happy by taking a picture of the three of them!

At least he tried. 

I'm looking forward to seeing the Valentine's Day Date picture every year and comparing it back to this one. 

The next day I asked the girls how their date was and they said, "We just went out to eat and looked at toys. Is that what a date is?" LOL. Their expectations may have been a little high. Welcome to life girls, welcome to life.

All that to say, sometimes I come up with really great ideas for traditions. And sometimes not.  We'll see which this pans out to be! Hope your Valentine's Day was just as sweet!

Do Those Direct Sale Products Really Work - Four Week Check In

Four weeks ago, I wrote a blog post letting you know that I was going to be testing four different direct sale products to see if they *really* work. I mean, come on, don't you sometimes wonder if the things they are selling ACTUALLY WORK at all or if people are just buying the idea of a better, stronger, cleaner, smoother, slimmer, healthier body?

So the first product I am testing is called L'Dara (Here's a new video from the company explaining their product. It's worth the watch.)  L'Dara is an anti-aging serum that claims to minimize your fine line and wrinkles, improve the firmness of your skin, and even shows results of helping with acne, scars, and age spots.  That's a pretty tall order for one product.

The product requires that you apply two pumps of the serum to your face twice a day, morning and night. I'll be honest with you, I have not been great at caring for my face over the years. I often fall into bed with my make-up on, and have even been known to apply new make-up right over the old . . . don't judge me . . . I get busy sometimes! So for one month I have washed my face morning and night and applied the serum.

Here's what I wrote in my journal along with a few picture results from each week. (A quick note about the pictures. I took my "before" pictures on a rainy day in my bathroom. I took all the pictures at the same time of the day, but the lighting was different in the rest.)

Here you go:

Week One:
My face is noticeably softer. I can't decide if that's because I've washed it so much that I've actually exfoliated it, or if it is the product, though many of their testimonials do talk about how soft their face feels. I like the feel of the product itself, and the smell is very, very subtle, which I like because I HATE strong smells in beauty products.

The only thing I truly dislike is that I have to remember to wash my hands after I apply it at night, or I go to bed with my hands feeling sticky. I cannot tell you how many times this week I have had to get out of bed to wash my hands.

Had I not taken before pictures, I'm not 100% sure that I would have noticed the difference I see in these pictures. But they are pretty impressive. The wrinkles around my eyes are noticeably less deep (why can't I think of how to say that?), and my neck is definitely looking firmer!

Week Two:
I am noticing small tiny blemishes around my lips. I've had this happen with facial products before. Anytime I switch products, this happens. But just wanted to document that this happened.

That said, I was very surprised at the laugh lines around my mouth. I tried to smile exactly the same way so as not to distort anything. Again, the lighting is different, but you can see how much less deep the wrinkles are.

*sorry about the clarity of this picture. It's a copy of a copy.

Week Three:
It's been a sleepless week with my littles, so I can't say there is really much to report this week. I guess even L'Dara can't take care of the bags under your eyes when you don't get enough sleep! Other than my baggy, saggy, dark-circled eyes this week, I did notice this one tiny thing. I have these horizontal lines across the top of my lip when I smile that really bug me, and they seem to be fading, or at least don't seem as deep. If those things go away, then score!

Week Four:
It's been one month since I've been using L'Dara and I have actually had people come up to me at church or comment when they visit my house that my skin looks amazing. Truthfully, I went out of town for three days and forgot to take it with me, so I'm surprised to see any results this week, but I did.

*I made this picture super large so you can zoom in on the results if you want to.

I want to show you a picture that was taken by a professional photographer. The one on the left is "au natural" not photoshopped and the one on the right is after the photographer's edits. (I love photographers!) Now compare that with my home photos (which have not been altered in any way). You can REALLY see the difference in my 4 week pictures.

Photo Credit:

I can honestly say, it's difficult to stare at and scrutinize my own face all the time, so I'm glad I'm seeing results or I would be SO depressed! LOL.

All that to say, overall, I'm pretty pleased. I have eight more weeks of testing this product. If you want to follow along each week, you can friend request me at

P.S. >   I've gotten a lot of questions about L'Dara so far, most related to cost, availability, where to purchase, etc.  If you want to know more, you need to contact Melinda Arellano. You can message her here on Facebook, or email her directly. 

Do All Those Direct Sale Products Actually Work?

I, like most of you, have a lot of friends who are presently working with some direct sales organization or another selling some product or another. I think it's great that these friends, most of whom are women, are trying to find a way to add income to their families' budgets by selling a product they believe in.  More power to them. Truly. I mean that. Go for it. Do what makes you happy.

That said, sometimes I really do wonder if the things they are selling ACTUALLY WORK at all or if people are just buying the idea of a better, stronger, cleaner, smoother, slimmer, healthier body?

This year, I have decided to do my own personal testing of sorts. Think of me as your own personal consumer report. Throughout the year, I will be testing and reporting on the efficacy of four different products.  I am not making any money from these companies. However, all of the companies involved have agreed to supply me with the product for 90 days, with the understanding that I will post my results, with 100% honesty, whether the product works for me or not.

There are a good number of products that I have decided not to test as I think they are just nonsense at best or dangerous at worst. But the products I have agreed to test are products I think have the ability to actually change my life for the better (if the claims they make are true!).

So here goes!

The very first product I am testing is called L'Dara. As a fifty-three year old mom of six year olds, I am concerned about three things; my health first, my fitness habits, and my looks. Yes, I said it. I'm a girl, and I think about my looks!  I'm not obsessed about having a perfect body, can't see myself going the plastic surgery, botox route (not judging those who do, just saying it's not for me) but I do know that I will be in my mid-sixties when my girls graduate from high school and well . . . to be honest . . . I don't want to look like a grandma (even though I'm hoping by my mid-sixties I WILL BE ONE!) ha!

In researching my options for skin care, I came across this video and was very intrigued. So I went to their website and was pretty much blown away by their results page. I have a friend who sells L'Dara, so I contacted her and she agreed to allow me to test the product and post the results here on my blog.

So, starting today, I am testing L'Dara Anti-Aging Serum (I like to say anti-aging . . . it sounds so dramatic).  I will post my starting pictures next week along with my week one progress pictures. While you are waiting, go watch the video and check out the results page. OH MMMM GEEE.

All that to say, this should be interesting folks. Stay tuned!

Finding Strength in the Strangest Place

Psalm 46: 1-5  
God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, 
though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip
into the heart of the sea;  
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake 
at its swelling pride.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her,
she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

I love this Psalm.  It paints in my mind's eye a very vivid picture of God's strength in the midst of chaos.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

His presence is familiar.  It's always there.  It's very present.  When I feel like the world is spinning out of control (out of my control, if I'm honest) I look for Him, and He's always there.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Think about this picture.  A mountain slipping down into the sea. I can picture the turmoil, the swell, the white foamy water.  It is not a peaceful picture.  It feels overwhelming and frightening.

It says, "Therefore we will not fear . . . " no matter what things look like around us.  No matter what is being destroyed or falling apart or changing.  We will not fear.  I will not fear.

And then there is the next beautiful line of this Psalm.  And every time I read this line . . .


it makes me catch my breath in awe.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God

I am not a theologian, and I don't know exactly what this means, but this is what it says to my heart. 

In the midst of destruction and chaos and uncertainty, there is a river, the depth of which cannot be imagined.   It is unfathomable.  It provides life.  It provides protection.  It has a determined course. It is a force to be reckoned with.  It is the Lord.

And I'm pretty sure THAT is why the thought of it takes my breath away.

When I read this one line, "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God," I feel instantly at peace.  And oddly enough, I feel bolstered.  I want to raise my fist and shout, "YEAH, That's right!  A RIVER!"

The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

All that to say, there is a river, a foaming, raging river, yet it is there I will find strength, and comfort and peace. There is a river, and I am wading out into the deep of it.

Setting an Example

I am a hand talker. This fact is most evident when I am angry. Or when I am driving. Or worst yet, when I am angry AND driving. (I couldn't decide whether to say worse yet, or worst yet, so I went with "worst yet" as it felt to have the greatest amount of emotion, so don't correct me if it's wrong. I took literary license.)

Anyway. I'm a hand talker. I make gestures (not those kind of gestures!) when I talk.

Also, when I don't know someone's name, I make a name for them that describes what I know about them.

For example, years ago, my kids and I always ran into the same guy on Friday's at the donut shop (don't judge me. YES, I fed my kids donuts faithfully every Friday for many years, and it didn't stunt their growth; though I once had a three year old tell me that he couldn't have a donut because, and I quote, "donuts make you flabby and weak." Wow.)

Back to my story. I have blog ADD today.

So, we saw this guy every Friday. And the thing that was the most notable about him was that he bounced when he walked. So we called him "bouncy man."

Really, my whole family does this naming thing. We have named all the chef's at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. They have names like "rock star guy" or "sweaty man" (sweaty man is one of the best there).

When I broke my leg several years ago and the paramedic tried to PULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the skate off my broken foot, Zack named him "Captain First Day On the Job."

I have many other stories about names I have given people whose real names I don't know.

The most common place I "name" people is in my car, while driving. People get names like "Mr. Oh-That's What That Lever Is For On My Steering Wheel. It's a Turn Signal!" (Most of the names aren't that long.)

I digress.

So the other day I was at a four-way stop and there was a dad there with two kids on bikes (with training wheels).

Brave Dad. (that's not the name I gave him)

He had his hand on one set of his kids' handlebars and was waiting on the other kid to catch up (at said four-way stop).

So, "Mr. Safety Dad Man" was waiving on the cars at the stop sign he was standing next to, FORGETTING the fact that there were 3 other stop signs at this FOUR-WAY-STOP.

He almost got us killed.

So I said, "Hey, Mr. Safety Dad Man, how about letting the TRAFFIC SIGNS do their job? Okay? Cool with you?" (Of course I didn't say it TO him, more "at" him, in the privacy of my own car. I HAVE mentioned my road rage issues, right?)

Then, all the sudden, I realized I had the twinderellas in my backseat. And they were listening to me. So I switched into "Mrs. See What a Good Mom I Am" and said, "Look at that nice daddy helping his kids on their bikes. That's so sweet."


All that to say, I am going to have to work on remembering that I am setting an example.  I guess technically I have been setting one for a while. Hopefully a few of my better qualities have shown through as well.  Time will tell, that's for sure. Those Twinderellas. They keep me humble.

You're Looking Pretty Good Carol Jones

I don't know why, maybe because I knew I had to leave my house today, or maybe because it's my birthday and that warranted a little bit of extra time looking in the mirror; but no matter the reason, I stood in my bathroom this morning, staring at the woman looking back at me.

photo credit: Tim Barosh
My attention initially fell to the curves I seem to have acquired as I have aged, but I wasn't put off by those curves as I often am.


Today I looked at myself and said, "You know, Carol Jones, you don't look too bad for a woman of 53 years. You've got a few wrinkles and some junk in the trunk, and let's get real, a boob job wouldn't hurt you, but generally speaking, you're one hot mama."

(yep, my actual conversation with myself)

I don't know, something about staring at myself in the mirror and talking to myself out loud made me giggle.

Hearing the noise in the background of our home, the girls laughing, iTunes playing,  I smiled, thinking how different my life *is* versus how I imagined it *would be* at this point.

I think somehow I pictured that I'd be in Paris or on some remote sandy beach sipping fruity drinks adorned with pink paper umbrellas. Trust me when I tell you, in no way did I ever imagine I'd be starting all. over. again.

Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom.  In fact, I think it's been my very best work.  I just didn't see myself here, at this stage again, at this point in my life.

But in the best and most fulfilling of ways, I'm glad I'm here.

And I'm thankful for every single thing God has allowed in my life, because each of those things, from the greatest of joys to the deepest of sorrows, has shaped and molded me into the woman I have become - every curve, wrinkle and flaw included.

All that to say, "Happy Birthday Carol Jones. You're looking pretty good, girl."