Man About Menifee: Driving Defensively Has Many Aspects

By David Baker

I suppose I'm like a lot of guys. I owe a great deal to my dad for his influence on the person I grew up to be. I hear myself laughing at the same jokes, using the same expressions and playing the same games with my kids that my dad played with me.

It wasn't all games, though. My dad taught me a lot of important skills as well. He taught me how to interlock two crescent wrenches so I can get more leverage. He taught me how to change the tire on my bike. He taught me never to put my hand in a woman's purse; if she needs something, bring her the purse because your hand does not belong in there. He also taught me how to drive.

When it came time for me to learn how to drive, I was excited but nervous all at the same time. My dad talked me through it and helped me learn. One of the phrases he used repeatedly that has stuck with me to this day was, "Always expect the other guy to do something stupid." This was of course his way of telling me to drive defensively.

This rule not only applies to driving but often times can apply to life as well.

When I first moved to Menifee, I was working in Temecula. It was then that I was introduced to the nickname for this area, which is Trafficula.

Every time I drive, I generally see somebody doing something that reinforces that nickname. Just driving around town this Thursday, I saw:

-- A teenager in a black Mustang showing off for his friends, laying rubber front of the high school.
-- A gentleman who was clearly old enough to know better waiting to the last minute to merge, then block two lanes of traffic.
-- A motorcyclist popping wheelies in the Target parking lot.

In the last week, I've seen at least two stories on Menifee 24/7 regarding fatal or near fatal crashes here in town.

So when I teach my children about driving in addition to my dad's rule, I add a few of my own.

Rule number one: Being an obedient driver is more important than being a courteous driver. If everyone just follows the rules of the road and proceeds when it is their turn and behaves in a way that is predictable, then everyone stands a better chance of getting home in one piece.

Rule number two: Don't let someone else's behavior on the road dictate yours. If someone doesn't like how fast you're going, that doesn't mean you have to speed. Let them go around you.

Rule number three: Stay Zen. If someone else is bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic and seems intent on hurting themselves, let them. Just increase the distance between your car and theirs.

These are the rules I try to impress on my kids when we have conversations about driving. These are also the rules I try to follow every time I get behind the wheel.

If you could get everybody on the road to follow at least one rule, what would it be?

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

Menifee Mom: Just Another Day in the Life of a Soccer Mom?

By Karen Thomas

This week, I had one of those days as a mom that makes you wonder how we ever keep our sanity.

It started out with the usual morning rush. Cereal is eaten and I am busy making lunches. The youngest is upstairs calling me to help her make her bed and get dressed. I continue to call her down as she doesn't have school until later and I just don't have time that moment. This calling back and forth continues until it's time to go and I have to carry her to the car because she won't comply.

One daughter had hoped I could straighten her hair, but we ran out of time. I thought she looked great, but as we pulled up to school, I was informed how horrible her hair looked and that she would have done something different, but she "thought it was going to get straightened!" (Door slams, she doesn't look back.)

Typical teenage drama. I try to shrug it off, even more convinced this kid needs more sleep.

My morning is wasted trying to fix my computer, again. I spend the afternoon volunteering in my youngest child's class. We rush home after school, I get the elementary kids a snack, and we head to Murrieta for an eye appointment. It's time for a new prescription for kid #3.

I realize that I have planned this appointment to just barely fit in our schedule and the rest of our day is at the mercy of the doctor. If he is running late, then everything else is going to be rushed madness.

This day, he was running 30 minutes behind (not bad, really). I spend the time quizzing my youngest on her flash cards and insisting that the other one get her silent reading done for the day. We have soccer next, of course, so we are multitasking.

We pull in the driveway with 20 minutes to mix up some blueberry pancakes and eat. As I walk in the door, I am bombarded with my older kids who need help with homework and have multiple tests they need help studying for.

Problem: I need to feed my kids. I need to leave to take kids to soccer and coach my team. I need to be at a meeting immediately following soccer. I need to get my kids to bed at a decent hour. I am not due home until after 9 pm. This homework will take hours. Husband is busy tonight, too.

It was a day where each thing, in isolation, is not a big deal, but piled up together, they just make you want to scream!

What do I do? Well, what else can you do, when you're the mom, except keep moving forward?

So I make the pancakes. One child insists on helping and we make quite a mess. I eat while I'm cooking and meeting demands like: "Mom, can you get me a fork?", "I need some syrup", "Mom, will you cut up my pancake?", "Hey, I wanted to flip that one!", "Will you shake my drink in my Slushy Magic cup? It's not working!", "I need help with my math!"

As I turn around to put a bowl in the sink, the slushy magic cup slips out of my daughter's hand and hits the ground. Blue Kool-Aid is splashed all over the floor, the chair, and the curtains. (Amazingly enough, I had not just mopped the floor that day.)

I quickly wipe up the mess as best I can. Dishes are tossed in the sink and we are out the door, running only a few minutes behind schedule. I try to brush the image of a very messy kitchen out of my mind.

As we are leaving, our cat-chasing dog bolts out the front door.

Immediately, the kids are all running around, trying to coerce the dog to come home. All I want is for them to get all their stuff and get in the car, and I tell them so! With the lure of a reward, I manage to grab the dog and lock her in the house.

And, we are off! As I come to a stoplight, I realize that my tank is on empty. I look down at my phone and see that my battery is almost dead. A perfect metaphor for exactly how I feel at that moment.

At that point, I realize that something has to give.

I use the last of my battery life to get someone to cover me at my meeting. What I really need to do tonight is get these kids back home, help them finish their homework, and get them to bed. Today, I just can't do it all. As much as we all try to be, we aren't Superwoman; we're just "mom."

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 Thursday. Comments are welcome.

Man About Menifee: A Scout in Training Gets in Line

By David Baker

When I stop to think about the time spent with my kids, my perception just seems to keep speeding up.

I remember when Nikk (18) first started Cub Scouts at age 6. Alexandra (12) and Jeremiah (10) have been camping and going on scout outings for years. Now I find myself starting over with Joshuah (18 months) and I marvel at how quickly the last year and a half went by.

My weekly work schedule allows me to be home on Thursdays, which allows me to play with Joshuah and really connect with him. He has many words and phrases that he uses and he walks and toddle-runs pretty well. We spent this last Thursday together and we had a very long conversation. To be honest I’m not really sure what it was about, but he seemed to enjoy it.

Joshuah "helped" me pack for Webelos Woods this weekend. And by help, I do mean pull things out that I had already packed. I showed him what a flashlight was, tried to show him how a whistle and a compass worked. We talked about sleeping in a sleeping bag, in the tent, in the woods. I gave him a little toddler camping stool and he very happily walked around talking about his new "seat", showing everyone how to "sit".
For those who don’t know, Webelos Woods is for Webelos Cub Scouts (fourth and fifth grades). What makes this age group different is that they get to participate in events with older Boy Scouts (age 11 up to 18). Webelos Woods is special because it is a campout entirely hosted and run by Boy Scouts for the benefit of the Webelos getting ready to bridge from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.

Typically the boys will arrive Friday afternoon, have a quick snack after setting up camp, and then head to bed, getting ready for the big day. The following day is filled with activities like obstacle courses, archery and even an atomic bucket. The latter is an exercise in teamwork where the boys are given some bungee cords and told they can use the cords to move a bucket from point A to point B, then back to A.

The only rule: the bucket is full of "radioactive" material so they can’t touch it with their bare hands.

Of course, Joshuah won’t be able to go on this campout. It is for fourth and fifth graders only. This weekend Jeremiah and I will be going to Boy Scouts of America Camp Emerson in Idylwild for what will most likely be his last campout as a Cub Scout. I am proud and sad at the same time, but mostly proud.

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

Menifee Mom Shows What it Means to Be a Soccer Mom, Too

By Karen Thomas

I saw a window decal on a van the other day stating "Soccer Mom." It got me thinking, and I had to admit that I too have arrived at that status.

When my kids were younger, I didn't truly understand the term. I figured it was like those moms we see on the TV show "Dance Moms" who go to extreme measures and seem almost brutally competitive, but in terms of soccer.

However, I've realized that when people refer to themselves as a "soccer mom," they are really just summarizing all of their free time into two little words. It doesn't mean they are obsessed or crazy, but rather that they support their kids in an activity that takes up A LOT of time.

Let me just summarize my soccer week: Tuesdays, three of my girls have practice. I drop one off, rush to the opposite end of town to another park to drop off a different daughter, then hurry back and hold practice for my youngest. The first one joins us when she's done and then we go back to the other park and wait for the oldest to be done and then go home. This routine takes three hours of our evening. We repeat on Thursday.

Wednesday and Friday evening, my other daughter has practice. Thankfully, she is the only one and we play at the park (I run) for the 1.5 hours until she is done.

But then comes Saturday. This last Saturday was crazy. We left for our first game at 7 a.m. It was followed by another one a few hours later. Then we rushed to a 1:30 game in Murrieta that started late and didn't end until 3:30, which left barely enough time to grab some pizza and refill our water bottles before we left again. We had to be in Corona at 5 p.m. for another game. By the time we got home, it was 9 p.m.

Notice that not only is almost every evening of the week gone, but our Friday night and Saturday is gone too. Wait, though, it gets better. When your kids play competitive soccer, you get to travel to tournaments on three-day weekends. So those are gone too. If two kids play and your tournaments are at different places, then you get to take separate vacations.

This may sound crazy, but it's what you do when you have multiple kids who love the same sport and are good at it. (Yes, I'm biased.) I'd tell them it was too much, but they love it, they manage to keep their grades high, and we've managed to make it work. Besides, which kid am I supposed to tell that they can't play because their sisters are playing? That's tough.

There are rewards to all this madness. On Saturday I got to see the joy one daughter shared with her team when they won their first game. I saw the young girls I coach begin to learn what it means to be a team. Another daughter is playing a new position and has found joy in scoring goals at her games and knowing what it is like when a team is truly depending on you.

We got to attend the game in Corona as a family. The team played like champions and it was a joy to watch. The younger kids cheered for their sister's team, but they also had fun playing soccer together behind the field. Our youngest made up a game called "Wet Ghost," where one person put a wet towel over their head and tried to tag someone. It had been a very long, very hot day, but in the coolness of the evening breeze, all of our kids were having a great time. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream and ended a great day.

Thankfully, all Saturdays aren't quite as long and I'll admit they often aren't so peachy, either. We've experienced our share of tough losses, bad sportsmanship, injuries, and cranky kids. But as long as it continues to be a positive experience for our kids, it isn't negatively impacting our family, and it's something they want to do, I'll continue to be a "soccer mom." Making sacrifices to do what's best for the kids is just part of being a parent.

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 Thursday. Comments are welcome.

The Caregiver's Journey: Remembering the Good Times

By Marsha Kay Seff

"The Caregivers' Journey" appears here monthly. Marsha Kay Seff wrote and edited the San Diego Eldercare Directory for 10 years. She knows first-hand about the ups and downs of caregiving, as she brought her aging parents to San Diego from Miami Beach in order to look after them. Her column will discuss the challenges faced by adults in caring for their aging parents. Direct email inquiries or responses to

How do you cope when your aging parents are experiencing increasingly more health issues and it looks like the end isn’t as far off as you’d hoped?

One of the best things you can do is build more memories.

As soon as my parents moved to San Diego, they landed in the hospital for hip-replacement surgery. Picture them in the matching wheelchairs they couldn’t negotiate. So I’d put Mom’s chair in front of my dad’s and ask him to push her while I pushed him.

I took Mom out Wednesdays, while Dad usually opted to remain behind. One Wednesday when I picked her up, it was pouring and I was afraid to let her out of the car. That’s when we spotted a beautiful rainbow and decided to follow it to find the pot of gold.

Another rainy day, I pulled up to the entrance of the mall and asked a complete stranger if he’d walk Mom inside while I parked the car. When I joined her, she introduced me to the kind man, explaining that he was in charge of making disabled shoppers comfortable.

Then, there are the false-teeth memories. Those teeth never did stay in her mouth, and during one restaurant visit, Mom dropped them and our waitress got down on all fours to retrieve them from under the table.

After dinner, my mother asked if I had gas. I said the food was great and so was my stomach. She said she only wanted to tell me we’d passed a low-cost gas station.

When Mom moved from her assisted facility to skilled nursing and still couldn’t maneuver her wheelchair, I gave her "driving" lessons around chairs in the courtyard. She never got the knack, but we had some good laughs.

There are two favorite memories from my mother’s last days.

Once, I asked how difficult it was to exist in a world confined to bed. She pointed out that she spent her days enjoying the sunshine and the birds outside her sliding-glass door. That was an important lesson for me.

On another visit, Mom called me by her name. "No Mom, that’s you; I’m Marsha."

Her answer: "I don’t think so; Marsha is much heavier than you are."

Yes, I’d lost weight and she noticed, even though she wasn’t convinced who I was.

I won’t pretend that caregiving was easy. But it did give me a chance to view my parents in a whole new light and make some great memories. Yes, I think we found that pot of gold.

Sponsored by Right at Home, In-Home Care & Assistance,, 951-506-9628, Contact Marsha Kay Seff at

Man About Menifee: Make Use of Deterrents to Crime

By David Baker

When I was in college, I majored in Administration of Justice, so logically now I sell kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures.

One of the subjects covered was CPTED, or "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design." The basic premise is the belief that making simple design changes to the environment can actually prevent the opportunity for crime.

The government and business sectors use these all the time, whether the local citizenry realizes it or not. Have you ever seen the big thick trees with deep roots in front of banks and government buildings? These aren’t just decoration. They are there to prevent a criminal from driving a truck through the side of the building and doing damage, stealing what is inside, or performing some other dastardly deed. They sure look better than a barbed wire fence and an armed guard though, don’t you think?

The big red balls in front of Target on Haun Road serve a similar purpose. If you’ve ever set foot in a shopping mall and noticed that the clothing racks, especially those close to the entrances and exit, seem a little more awkward when pulling multiple items off, this is by design as well.

By placing each successive hanger opposite the other, rather than have them all open in the same direction, this prevents potential thieves from performing a snatch and grab and running away with merchandise.

Last night I was with Doug Spoon, the editor of Menifee 24/7, on the scene of a police-involved shooting in Sun City. As he was posting updates of the story via Facebook, people were responding and leaving comments. One individual seemed to indicate there were more cheerful news stories to report on, and he was instantly beset upon by dozens of readers all in support of our efforts to report the news as it actually happened.

As Niki D. of Riverside posted, "I want to know what is going on around me. Not seeing it doesn't mean it isn't happening."

All this got me thinking, are residents of the Menifee Valley aware of what they could do for themselves to make them less of a potential victim in their own home without simply becoming a shut-in, or going into full survivalist mode lockdown?

CPTED, when used residentially, can be broken into a few basic ideas:

For a bad guy to do bad things, it helps if he is not seen or detected. High hedges and shadows are his friends. So keep the walk clearly visible, and avoid over-powered security lights that create glare and shadow. Make sure lighting overlaps eliminating shadow.

The biggest natural deterrent is pain. No, I don’t advocate the use of bear traps or strategically placed "Home Alone" style Legos and Micro Machines, but low bushes, especially thorny roses and the like, placed under a ground floor window can dissuade would-be prowlers from using this as an access point.

Property lines:
It turns out your HOA was right. Making sure your lawn is groomed and weeds are pulled tells a potential intruder that this is a house where the people are alert to their surroundings.
There’s an old proverb that says "A lock only keeps an honest man honest." If a criminal really wants your stuff, he’ll find a way, but that doesn’t mean you need to make it easy.

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

Menifee Mom: 9-11 Didn't Kill American Spirit

By Karen Thomas

Every year when Sept. 11 rolls around, I, like so many others, find myself remembering exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first found out about the planes hitting the World Trade Center.

We were living outside of Philadelphia at the time. My oldest daughter was just 1 ½ years old. It was a normal morning for us. My husband was at work and we had settled in the family room. I was folding laundry, she was "helping," and I was watching the "Today" show.

The regular morning chatter on the TV was interrupted with images of the World Trade Center on fire. They could confirm that a plane had hit the tower, but didn’t know why. As I was watching, the story unfolded. We watched the towers on a live broadcast as they were reporting the aftermath of the first crash. Right before our eyes, we saw the other plane hit the second tower. At that moment, the entire country knew we were under attack.

I’ll never forget the somber tone that took over the newscasters in that moment or how the feelings of shock, fear, and vulnerability overtook me in an instant. But what really has stuck with me all these years was that my daughter, who had been loudly playing with her toys, suddenly turned quiet and subdued. She climbed up on my lap and wanted me to hold her. The whole feeling in the room changed and she could sense something was wrong.

I immediately called my husband at work, so thankful for cell phone technology that made him easy to reach. He said someone had just seen it on a nearby TV and many people were now gathered around watching it. We were both in shock and wishing that we were together at that moment.

Just a month before, we had visited New York City and had taken a photo in front of the World Trade Center. I remember my husband had to lie on his back to get the top of the towers in our picture. We had planned to go up to the top, but we had already had a long day and had been to the top of the Empire State Building. We’d said we would go to the top of the twin towers next time. We never thought there wouldn’t be a next time.

Over the next few days and weeks, we heard stories from friends who often commuted into NYC for work. One woke up that morning and had the thought to cancel his appointment, but didn’t know why. Another one usually took the train into the city, but for some reason decided to drive instead. It turned out his train would have taken him under the towers during the attack.

So many of the events hit close to home. We had a nuclear power plant just a few miles from our house. My husband drove by it every day on his way to work. There was a definite concern of an attack at that location. The military was brought in to guard the plant. Out of caution, we started keeping our gas tanks full and reviewed our emergency plans.

For everyone in our country, the events of 9-11 reminded us that we are vulnerable. We held our loved ones closer and we pulled together as a nation. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in a country that is free from civil war and major unrest. But on the day of the attack, and for quite some time afterwards, we got just a taste of what it is like to live in fear.

However, I believe the events of 9-11, in the end, did the opposite of what our attackers intended. For many, the experience gave us more compassion for those around the globe who aren't as lucky as we are. Even greater though, we found more appreciation for our life in the USA and truly felt "proud to be an American."

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 Thursday. Comments are welcome.

Observations, Tips and Questions About Life: Sept. 11

Featuring Bill Rhoads

Each week, Sun City resident Bill Rhoads shares with us some of his "tips about life." Bill keeps a written record of "tips" that come to mind and has a strong motivation to share them with others. His purpose in doing so is to stimulate his own thinking and to stir some ideas into the pot of life. He believes in God and the Golden Rule.

The problem with going with the flow
Is you’ve got little choice about who you’re with
Or where you go.

Man is surrounded by many elusive ghosts:
Memories of the past
Dreams of tomorrow
And perceptions of now.

Every time we find something good in someone else
We like ourselves better.

If you have thoughts and/or responses to Bill's tips, leave a comment here or send emails with your feedback to

Man About Menifee: Dogs Can Be a Baby's Best Friend, Too

By David Baker

I've often heard it said that dogs are man's best friend. Quite frankly, I have to disagree with that sentiment. Don't get me wrong; I love my dogs incredibly. But they really are my kids’ best friends.

I really can't remember a time in my life when I didn't have dogs. My first dog was a dachshund named Stinker. He came by his name honestly. Unfortunately, when I was a toddler my parents had to put him down because he bit me when I was crawling near his food dish. Shortly after when I was very young, we got an Airedale Terrier named Shannon. She was really my dog and we had her until she died when I was maybe 10 years old.

By then we had other dogs too. There was Buttercup the golden retriever, and Jenny and Brandy, mutt strays we adopted -- or maybe they adopted us. One day, my dad brought a pit bull mix home from a friend at work. My daughter Alexandra loved to crawl on the floor, climb on him and pull on his cheeks and he was happy to let her.

When Alexandra was 1, my wife and I adopted a golden retriever mix named Nala from a retriever rescue society in San Diego. They called her Nala (as in the Lion King) because when rescued, her hair was all matted and they had to shave her except for her mane and the tuft at the end of her tail.

About eight years ago, my boss at the time gave us a Brittany Spaniel Labrador mix named Coco. He had bought Coco as a puppy a few months prior but because he and his wife worked, they didn't have time to take care of her.

While Coco was visiting my parents’ house, the neighbor’s Golden Retriever that they used for breeding jumped the fence and gave us 12 golden mix puppies with Coco. Of course, shame on us for not having her spayed, but all the puppies went to friends, family and neighbors and they all have good homes now. We kept one and his name is Jaxson.

About a year ago, we saw the listing on Menifee 24/7 for a pit bull mix named Missy. Someone had found Missy running around on the highway but couldn't keep her because Missy didn't get along with her other dogs.

Some people had posted some rather ugly and unintelligent comments related to pit bulls under the listing, so my wife and I decided to see if Missy would be a good fit for our dogs. Now, any good dog owner will tell you rule number one is, you never go out, get a dog and bring it home to your other dogs. If you do, you're just asking for trouble. We phoned the person who made the listing and asked her to meet us at E.L. Pete Petersen Park on Murrieta Road.

This park has two nice sized dog runs, one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. We introduced the dogs in this neutral space and watched how they interacted. I threw the ball for them for maybe 30 or 45 minutes, just enough for them to get tired. Then I called the dogs over, put the leashes on them, said goodbye to Missy's former owner and took all three dogs home.

When we introduced baby Joshuah, I held him and showed him to the dogs. They were only allowed to be around the baby when they were calm and seated. If the dogs began to get antsy or too excited, I sent them away.

Today, the baby is not afraid of the dogs and the dogs are not afraid of him. Joshuah even takes naps with our ferocious pit bull Missy (yes, this is sarcasm; see below).

So I'll put this out to the readers: How did you get your dog? What's your dog’s story?

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

Menifee Mom: Tribute to a Grandma Strengthens Family Ties

By Karen Thomas

Last weekend, my family and I traveled to Sacramento to attend the memorial service for my grandmother.

My grandmother was 89 years old and lived an amazing life. She experienced divorce, remarried and found the love of her life, endured the death of a teenage child, migrated to a new country, ran her own business (which continued until her death), and raised six children.

Her family was everything to her. We all marveled at how she managed to make it to every important event for her grandchildren, no matter what state they lived in. She left behind a legacy of love and devotion.

Throughout her later adult years, she experienced many severe health problems, but she refused to let them slow her down. She continued to serve others even when it meant being pushed around in a wheelchair because her heart couldn't take the exertion.

As we sat and listed to stories of her life, I only could wish that I can leave behind such a legacy. I hope that my children were able to sense what a great person she was and find a desire within themselves to live a life focused on those things that really matter.

But of course, one of those children is only 5. Though she understood the situation, her interest was fleeting. Being family, we were seated at the front. A few times during the service, she loudly asked, "Is it almost over?" and "Can we just go back to the hotel and swim?"

Each time, my hand was quickly put over her mouth in embarrassment! It had been a long morning and I guess you can only expect so much from a little tyke.

There were tears at the service, as there always are when someone you love passes away. But those tears were combined with a great sense of joy: joy that she was able to live a life that had influenced so many, joy that we knew her, and joy my personal belief gives me that she has gone on to bigger and better things.

One great thing about memorial services for a matriarch who meant so much to so many is being able to witness the great gathering of family members. I was able to see relatives I haven't seen in 15 years or more. It is wonderful to find still intact the connection that brings people together even when they've lived worlds apart.

At the end of this great weekend in honor of a great person came the drive home. After we left home to begin the trip up to Sacramento, we had discovered our portable TVs were not working. We had promised to get them working before we came home, but we hadn't.

So now, we had another long drive with no TV. They had done it before (I'm ashamed to say it was due to iPods and portable gaming devices), so we figured they'd survive it again.

We were busy "surviving it," when it was announced that one daughter was "stinky." Her older sister, who was stuck in the very back with her, told us she was "not going to ride back there with her any longer!"

So we asked her, "How are you going to get home?"

Her brilliant answer: "I don't know; I'll ride on the roof."

To our surprise, the little sister (the stinky one) started to cry and said, "But then I'll be back here all alone!"

Yup, no worries that her sister will be risking her life by riding on the roof, but only that now she'll be all alone in the back! This logic or lack of compassion should've concerned me, but all I could do was laugh.

I know my grandma had plenty of experiences with her kids that drove her crazy, but at which she later looked back on and laughed. I am learning to find humor and a bit of perspective in frustrating situations, but probably not as much as I should. I know if we can only learn to find joy in the journey, instead of frustration, then each day can become part of a legacy of a life that truly was great.

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 Thursday. Comments are welcome.

Observations, Tips and Questions About Life: Sept. 4

Featuring Bill Rhoads

Each week, Sun City resident Bill Rhoads shares with us some of his "tips about life." Bill keeps a written record of "tips" that come to mind and has a strong motivation to share them with others. His purpose in doing so is to stimulate his own thinking and to stir some ideas into the pot of life. He believes in God and the Golden Rule.

The process by which we set about changing the traits
In our mates
That attracted us to them in the first place

Doubt blurs goals
Shatters hearts and vision
And pierces souls

Vanity ... the worst profanity
And the most incurable insanity.

If you have thoughts and/or responses to Bill's tips, leave a comment here or send emails with your feedback to