Menifee Mom: The Approach to Motherhood is Crucial

By Karen Thomas

On a recent Monday morning, I found myself rejoicing as I sent my kids off to school. It had been a weekend filled with drama, senseless arguments, and overall frustration for me as a mother. To top it off, the house had become a complete disaster zone. With each kid I dropped off at school, I felt as if a weight was being lifted from my shoulders.

Before I could even think of tackling the chores at home, though, I needed a stress relieving run. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, so that day I decided to listen to a podcast about motherhood as I ran. There was so much going through my mind, I didn't focus on most of what I heard. But one phrase stuck out: "Deliberate Motherhood."

I honestly couldn't tell you what the podcast said this meant, but it was such an interesting phrase it got me thinking. That morning I just couldn't wait to get my kids out of the house and out of my hair. I know all moms feel that way from time to time. Still, I wondered if I was deliberately being a mother to my kids, or if I was simply surviving each day.

I stearted looking at the day to day happenings in life, like school, homework, meals, sports, chores, shopping, playtime, etc. and all the issues that arise in the midst of it. I wondered if I use those events to purposely teach my children skills they need for life, or if I am just trying to check things off of a "to do list." Do I take advantage of teachable moments?

As I've tried to mother my children more "deliberately," I've realized that it doesn't necessarily mean making great changes to the things I am already doing. It's more about changing my attitude and sometimes my approach. I realize that even the little routine things we do are shaping the childhood memories my kids will have as adults.

When I welcome my kids home from school, by simply being sincere and taking a moment to stop and greet them, I am purposely helping them feel loved at home and happy to be here.

When we go to soccer practice, if I give them a few words of encouragement on the way or take time to ask meaningful questions about practice afterwards (and actually focus on their answers), then I am becoming a part of that soccer experience with them.

When they ask for help with homework, I can slow down and focus as I help them instead of just giving them rushed advice as I pass by.

I've found that changing my approach helps me to enjoy motherhood more and helps my kids to sense that I enjoy being a mom; that I enjoy being their mom. With the busy pace of life, it is easy to get caught up in just getting things done. If we can remember to get those things done with a purpose in mind, we are deliberately being the mom our kids need.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.

Menifee Mom: More Lessons Learned From Another Shaker

By Karen Thomas

Did your family feel the earthquake last weekend? Mine did. We were all sitting upstairs talking on my bed when everything started rumbling. It was a small shaker, but it certainly got our attention!

I'd like to say that our efforts to teach our kids to "duck, cover, and hold on" were successful and everyone grabbed a pillow to protect their heads, but we all just sat there saying, "We're having an earthquake!" I know it didn't require action, but I'd like to have seen some type of thoughtful reaction. At least I can proudly report that no one panicked.

After a long quiet period, it seems the earthquake faults have awakened again. Perhaps the little shaker we had was also a wake-up call to all of us that we need to be prepared.

Though the city of Menifee isn't on top of any major faults, it does lie between the San Jacinto Fault and Elsinore Fault. Some experts say the Elsinore fault is at high risk of producing a big quake soon.

When you have little kids, preparing for an earthquake can be a little tricky. You have to find that balance between teaching them what we need to do and not scaring them so much that they won't leave your side! For the most part, though, I have found that helping our kids feel prepared eases their fears.

We found some great videos online that demonstrate what to do and what not to do. We previewed them first to determine which ones were most appropriate for our kids. It really helped them visualize what it would be like in an actual earthquake and helped them to see what they can do to be safe in different situations: Lying in bed, in the car, at school, playing outside, etc. For days afterwards, our kids would ask, "What should I do in this room if there was an earthquake?"

The USGS and FEMA websites have pages dedicated to teaching kids how to be prepared. There are even online games. The Earthquake Country Alliance outlined the following seven basic steps for earthquake preparedness:

Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. (Our family is reminded that we need to secure that tall heavy armoire and bunk beds in the kids room!)

Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency. (We told our kids where our alternate meeting place is in case our home is not accessible.)

Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. (We have backpacks with basic food and emergency supplies for each member of our family. It is also advised that you keep a flashlight, sneakers, and leather gloves next to the bed to aid in escaping a major disaster.)

Step 4: Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance. (Keeping insurance documents, birth certificates, etc . in a fireproof safe is always a good idea.)

Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the earth shakes. (We learned that you shouldn't run outside and if you are in bed, stay there. You shouldn't run to your kids' rooms because you are likely to get hurt on the way, making you no help to them when shaking stops. And -- a surprise to me -- doorways are not the safest place!)

Step 6: Improve safety after earthquakes by evacuating if necessary, helping the injured, and preventing further injuries or damage. (In the event there is damage, you should shut off your main gas line and avoid using any electricity; a spark could cause an explosion if there is a gas leak.)

Step 7: Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.

I love step 7! Whenever there is a major disaster, we see contrasting images of communities pulling together and looters taking advantage of the situation. In Menifee, our citizens have shown a lot of support for others who've experienced their own personal disasters of one kind or another. I'd like to think that we would help dig each other out in a large scale disaster, too.

If nothing else, teach the members of your family to "Duck, Cover, and Hold On." It just may save their life someday.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.

In the Wild With Jackie: The Painted Ladies Are Here

Editor's note: This is the first monthly column by the newest addition to our columnist lineup. Jackie Johansen's "In the Wild With Jackie" column will focus on wildlife found in the Menifee area.

By Jackie Johansen

If you have been out for a walk lately, or even had to clean your windshield, you have likely encountered lots of butterflies!

While winter didn’t really come to Menifee this year, spring is definitely here. Among the blossoms you will likely find lots of Painted Ladies, a delightful orange and black butterfly.

Painted ladies start out as an egg, usually on the underside of leaves. In their larval stage, they look like tiny ants, and eventually grow to the size of a 1 ½ inches. After four molts, and forming a chrysalis, this butterfly is ready to emerge.

But be warned: Just before hatching, the chrysalis can move wildly. This jiggling motion might make you jump, just like it is supposed to. The motion is meant to scare predators away from this otherwise tasty snack.

You are likely in for a good laugh if you watch a child try to catch one of these. The painted lady doesn’t fly very straight. In fact, their flying behavior has been described as a “cork screw.”

This beautiful butterfly is a helpful pollinator to our area, and is likely benefitting your garden, because it mostly feeds on weeds, like thistle. It also has a migration route from California to Mexico in some years.

Many scientists have hypothesized that their migration pattern is tied to El Nino weather patterns, when the deserts have more water and flowers. During this “irruptive migration,” an irregular migration that isn’t tied to any known environmental cues, this butterfly can travel up to 100 miles per day, and has been clocked at speeds of 30 miles per hour. This helps explain the windshield mess!

The painted lady is the most widely dispersed butterfly on the planet, and are most often found in Riverside County from July to October. It is a popular choice for science projects, and for home-hatching fun! Next time you see this little lady, take note. She won’t be around long!

What animals or plants have piqued your curiosity in Menifee lately?

Jackie Johansen loves everything outdoors and spending time with her husband and kids. She teaches high school biology for Julian Charter School and holds degrees in zoology, conservation biology, education, and technology. Her "In the Wild" column will appear here once a month.

Menifee Mom: It's Time to Just Get Out There and Run

By Karen Thomas

Winter is officially over (well, what was supposed to be winter, anyway!) and race season is in full swing.

I used to think that races were for runners who had a natural ability, were fast, and trained hard all the time. But I've learned that most of the participants are average people, often moms like me, who started running to get in shape.

I signed up for my first race because I had a group of friends who were going to train for it and it was the perfect opportunity to cross something off of my bucket list. At the time, my only goal was to complete the race. I never thought it would turn into a hobby. But once I got through the pain (yes, I will admit to some pain) of training and experienced the thrill of crossing the finish line, I could only think about how much I wanted to do it again!

Yes, running is a bit addicting.

It's now been almost two years since my first race. While squeezing in runs during the week and waking up early on Saturday to get a long run in before a busy day with the kids can be difficult, I continue to do it. Let me share with you why I run and why, if you have any desire to be a runner, you should give it a try.

1. It's Convenient and It's Free: Well, not completely free. You do need a decent pair of running shoes and if you sign up for races, there are entry fees. However, there is no gym membership to pay for, no driving to the gym, and no limitations as to where or when you can run. Just step out your door and get going! In just 30 minutes, you can be done with a great workout.

2. You Get Time to Yourself: I love to listen to fun music while I run, but I also will turn on podcasts that let me think or inspire me. Sometimes I just leave the headphones off and use the time to sort out my thoughts. With our busy lives, we all need some time to do just that.

3. I Have More Energy: OK, there are times I come home just dead tired. But most of the time my days are way more productive when I start with a run. It just gets me moving and often the momentum gets carried throughout the rest of the day. Plus, being in better shape gives you more energy.

4. A Sense of Achievement: I think the hardest part of being a mom is feeling like you never accomplish anything. You finish the laundry only to turn around and see the baskets filling up again. The dishes never end, there is always food to be prepared, and there are always messes to clean up. But with running I can set goals, track my progress, and when a race is over I can feel like I actually achieved something tangible. Yes, motherhood is rewarding in more ways than I can count, but sometimes a mom just needs something she can accomplish that is hers alone and completely within her control.

5. Social Time: OK, so this contradicts reason No. 2 a bit, but I also love to run with friends. Short runs are generally time for myself, but the best part of a long run is being with friends. It's great to get together with other moms and solve all of life's problems while completing a 10-mile run. I really could have used this when my kids were all little!

Despite the true enjoyment I now find in running, the thing that really keeps me motivated are races. Once I'm signed up, my training takes on new meaning.

So find a race that interests you (a nightime glow race, a mud run, a color run, an obstacle race, or even just an ordinary 5K or half marathon; a quick Internet search will yield tons of options), con a friend into signing up with you, and get going! If you want to stay really close to home, the city of Menifee hosts a 5K and half marathon in May as well as an annual Veteran's day race.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and run!

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.

Menifee Foodie: Great Ideas Come From Great Food Blogs

By Malissa Meeks

We are so fortunate to live in the age of computers. There is a fountain of knowledge at your fingertips. You Tube, recipe web sites and food blogs are all so valuable in our continuing quest to be the best foodie we can be.

One of my favorites is Six Sisters. Since I have six daughters, I was of course drawn to this site. Six Sisters was created as a way for six sisters to stay in contact with each other and share ideas and recipes. These awesome ladies actually have a best selling cookbook out entitled Six Sisters. They have recipes for just about anything you are looking for.

One of the things I like about their site is the organization. They have the recipes indexed by type and this makes it so easy to find just what you are looking for. Their recipes are easy to follow and I have been very pleased with just about everything I have made from their recipe file. They can be found at

Another blog I have recently been introduced to is Fire and Spice. Sisters who just happen to be twins write this blog. They are from a very large family and are both busy moms so they keep nutrition and time saving in mind.

These sisters are very health conscious and wanted to share recipes that they have both created and tried that put a healthier meal on the table. A couple of my favorites are the Cilantro Lime Chicken Enchiladas and the Skinny Slow Cooker Taco Soup. On their blog they list some of their favorite foodie blogs, which are also a great resource. They can be located at

Once you get into the foodie blogosphere, it is almost addicting. There are so many great ideas and recipes out there and they are all at your fingertips. Mix things up. Make a new recipe every week that you have never made before. It is so much fun to get out of your rut and do something different.

If you have a favorite blog that you would like to share with our readers, leave a comment. We would love to explore your blogs.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every other week. Leave comments here or email them to

Man About Menifee: These Boy Scouts Need Your Help

By David Baker

Frequent readers of my columns will know that I have written about a wide variety of topics, ranging from helpful how-tos to announcements of community events.

One thing that has always impressed me about the community of Menifee and the surrounding areas is the sense of fellowship and outpouring of support that tends to occur during times of hardship.

I've seen it with members of our community that have fallen ill or become injured. We all saw it in each other during the Terry Smith Jr. case. I've witnessed instances of extreme giving associated with the Menifee Christmas Dinner.

I suppose this is why news stories like this one about the theft of a scout trailer surprise me that much more:

For those who haven't heard, the Boy Scouts of Troop 332 from Wildomar showed up for their weekly Tuesday night meeting and discovered their toy hauler with all of their camping gear had been stolen.

Apparently, the trailer was parked in front of the local VFW post and the last time anybody remembered seeing it was Friday night.

When I read about this crime, I had the same reaction a lot of you probably did. That reaction was to ask myself, "How desperate does someone need to be to steal from the Boy Scouts?" I suppose the answer is in the question, because it would have to be somebody who is incredibly desperate.

However, knowing the nature of my friends and neighbors here in Menifee, I suspect that many of you will turn this negative into a positive by a show of support for these boys. Hopefully we can show them that there are good people of the world, too.

I am still trying to get contact information for the scoutmaster or committee chairperson of this Troop. If anyone has this information or if anyone knows about an organized effort to help these boys restock supplies, please post a comment below or send me an email at

I certainly intend to do everything I can to help out. And of course if you have any information that will help the police catch the criminals, or recover any of the gear, please contact Investigator Cornett at 951-245-3357, or by email at

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every other Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at

Menifee Foodie: Breakfast House Gets High Marks

By Malissa Meeks

I don’t go out to breakfast very often, but when I do, I know where I will be headed.

One recent morning I went to The Breakfast House Los Tejabanes, located at 27701 Scott Road in Menifee. Let me just say it was delightful.

We were greeted immediately upon arriving by a very friendly hostess. We were seated and our waiter came out immediately with a cinnamon coated flour tortilla as a treat to snack on while we decided what we would order.

The menu has something for everyone. The breakfast menu offered everything from steak to grits, and this Southern girl was excited to see grits on the menu.

The restaurant was very clean and welcoming. There were booths as well as tables with fresh linen on them. The music was at the right volume where it was easy to have a conversation at your table and be able to hear everyone. The kitchen is well partitioned off so you are not hearing a lot of kitchen noise. They have an area for larger groups and can accommodate between 13 and 20 in a larger group setting.

I ordered the corned beef scramble bowl. The bowl came with a choice of toast or biscuits and gravy. I, of course, chose the biscuits and gravy. The bowl contained corned beef, cubed potatoes, bell pepper, onion, cheese, and scrambled eggs and was topped with an adequate amount of cheese. It was delicious. It was almost like a homemade corned beef hash but one step better with the added ingredients.

The menu also includes lunch and dinner with a very large variety of choices. I am eager to try some of their dinner choices.

They have daily specials, which are displayed on a board when you enter the restaurant. Check out their website for their specials at Some of the specials include Taco Tuesday, which they also have on Thursday. Street Tacos are only 99 cents and Fish or Shrimp Tacos are only $1.99. Wednesday’s kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entrĂ©e. Monday through Friday they have a breakfast special from 6-8 a.m. This includes two pancakes, one egg and bacon or sausage for $2.99.

They have a children’s menu and offer a 10 percent military discount.

I highly recommend The Breakfast House Los Tejabanes. I give this restaurant five out or five spoons.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every other week. Leave comments here or email them to