The Book That Changed the Night
It looked like another long, depressing weekend. My husband was working out of the state and would not be home for at least another week. The kids and I missed him, and as that Friday night progressed, I found myself getting more and more grouchy.
When I answered the phone later that evening, I noticed one of our family scrapbooks lying open nearby. I had removed a page from it earlier that day so that my eight-year-old, Allyson, could take it to school.
I halfheartedly began flipping through the scrapbook. When I came upon a photograph of Allyson at two years old, doing her “famous” hop, I giggled. Other photographs brought back pleasant memories as well. I’d forgotten how my son David used to grimace when he was asked to smile. And all those cousins at the family nativity pageant—how they had changed in seven years!
In a matter of minutes, I was completely absorbed, reading and remembering. Every few minutes I chuckled, and before long David was seated beside me, enjoying the memories. We went upstairs and got five-year-old Brian to join us. He was amazed to see that his brother and sister were once smaller than he.
In a few short minutes, my mood had completely changed, and the atmosphere in our home had gone from sullen and edgy to tender and happy—all because we’d taken time to record our family history in a colorful, entertaining way.
That night reinforced my belief in the importance of keeping photos and other family memorabilia organized and available for family viewing. Through the years, I have learned how to compile family scrapbooks with relative ease and efficiency.
Organizing materials. I started by organizing all the materials I had collected as the children got older: photos, schoolwork, awards, cards, letters, newspaper articles, and so on. I used apple boxes to hold folders of memorabilia from each year of a family member’s life. My husband and I had folders with headings such as “early childhood,” “high school,” “mission,” and “college.” Items that did not fit into a file folder were put into the appropriate person’s “treasure box,” which we kept in our basement. After two weeks of sorting and filing materials in my spare time, I was ready to begin compiling the scrapbooks.
Page setup. Next I bought high-quality scrapbook materials that would endure lots of handling. I chose to mount pictures and other memorabilia with transparent photo corners on heavyweight index or card-stock paper (available at most print shops and copy centers). Then I bought vinyl covers for each page. The covers are purposely oversized so that each scrapbook page can slip right in. This necessitates buying oversized binders, which I have found to be longer lasting and of better quality than the standard binders.
Some items are unsuitable for photo-corner mounting (artwork or typed material, for example). It is better to paste those items on the pages with an archival quality glue that will allow the item to stick flat; such glues are available in many bookstores and office supply stores.
Time and work space. Once I had begun compiling my scrapbooks, my main problem was finding the time and space to work on them. I found it convenient to set up my scrapbook equipment in a corner of the den so that my materials would be readily available. That enabled me to work on a page whenever I had spare time.
As my children have grown older, I have enlisted their help in picture sorting, filing, and, eventually, page setup. They seem to value the scrapbooks more than they would have if they had not helped put them together. Even though keeping scrapbooks is a never-ending job, at each step the results are immediately enjoyable.—, Boulder City, Nevada
“Happy History to You”
Instead of buying each of my grandchildren a card to accompany a birthday gift, I check my journal to see what was happening when the child’s mother or father was the same age as the child. Then I write a birthday letter and share a few incidents from that time in the child’s parent’s life.—, Bountiful, Utah
Frugal Food Storage
We really wanted to begin a food storage program, but as newly married full-time college students expecting our first baby, we wondered how we could possibly do it. Discouraged, I said, “Food storage must be one of those things you do after your children are grown up.”
My husband smiled at me and then dashed to our cupboard, opened it, and pulled out every box, package, and can. As he hummed a tune, he began arranging everything into groups. He looked at me, grinned, and pointed to a small stack of food.
“Food storage!” he said. I looked at the stack: two cans of green beans, a bag of rice, a package of spaghetti, and one jar of apricots. “This is our food storage?” I asked.
“Sure,” he answered. “This is our frugal food storage.”
Since then we have followed his frugal food storage theory. Each week we bring home our groceries, go through each bag, and ask, “Can we do without this item this week?” If we can, we set it aside as a food storage item.
This idea works so well that six years and three children later, we are still using it. Though we have more money now than we did during our first year of marriage, we are still on a budget. Following are a few other tips that help us add to our food storage when money is scarce:
Store any storable food that comes from an unexpected source. For example, if friends or family invite you to dinner or bring in a meal to you, store the canned or packaged food items you would have used for that meal.
Set aside a small amount of money each week to buy staples such as pasta, baking ingredients, and paper products. You may be surprised at how quickly you can build up a supply of these staples for only a few dollars a week.
Learn how to bottle, freeze, and dry fresh foods. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can preserve small amounts of fresh fruits or vegetables when they are on sale at the grocery store.
Set goals for your food storage supply. Work toward a one-month supply, then a three-month supply, and so on. Be realistic.
Try new ideas until you find the ones that work for you. The important thing is to start now; don’t wait until you have more money, or you may never start. Next family home evening, go through your cupboards and set some of your food aside for your food storage. You can have a food storage program, even on a modest income.—, Marienville, Pennsylvania
Home Teaching the Whole Family
“I love to have home teachers come,” one sister told me recently, “but my children can’t stand it.” Many home teachers who aren’t accustomed to teaching young children find that if they aren’t sensitive to the needs of children, tiny ones can easily become bored and frustrated rather than enlightened and uplifted by home teaching messages.
If you home teach families with young children, the following pointers can help you ensure that your visits are a positive experience for the entire family.
Use visual aids. Bring props, pictures, objects, and models. Presentations to children are more effective if the home teacher provides lots of “show” with the “tell.” Share examples, artifacts, souvenirs, mock-ups, or other visual aids.
Be interesting. Vary your voice, use eye contact, and speak in an enthusiastic tone. Focus on facts, issues, and ideas that children care about.
Keep it simple. Get to the point without going into a lot of detail. Be sensitive to the limited background and vocabulary of the children you are addressing. Emphasize basic concepts and state them in easy-to-understand terms.
Involve everyone. Use questions to encourage thinking and make sure little ones understand. Ask children to make predictions about how a lesson or story might end—and write the predictions down. Call for volunteers to hold visual aids or help demonstrate. Try drawings, role plays, or games as ways of involving young children in home teaching lessons. Touching and tasting will always be more effective than simply telling.
Watch the time. Limit what you say to fit the attention spans of the children. Notice when young ones begin to fidget, stretch, look around the room, or talk to brothers and sisters. These are signals that it’s time to move on.
Be spontaneous. Be willing to adjust when questions come up or when children get especially excited about a particular point of the discussion. Don’t be taken aback when some questions and comments don’t have anything at all to do with the subject at hand. Be flexible and enjoy the moment.
I call this the VISITS formula, with emphasis on six key words: Visual aids Interesting Simple Involve Time Spontaneous
Remember the key words, and review them in your mind as you go to visit the families assigned to you. You spend a lot of time preparing lessons and visiting your assigned families. Those efforts will be more effective if you will plan lessons to capture the enthusiasm of the children you visit.—, Laramie, Wyoming