A Song in Your Home

Little children love music. They enjoy singing, dancing, and simply listening to music. But for some children, their only experience with music is at Primary or on the radio. Primary songs are consistent with Latter-day Saint values and can be used at home for fun and education and to draw the family closer together.

A good way to start singing at home is to sing the songs your children already know. The first step in using Primary songs is to get a copy of Sing with Me. Then get a list from the Primary chorister of the songs they sing in Primary. Once you’re familiar with these songs, add more.

You might learn new songs in family home evening. You could begin with a song the children know and end the evening with a new song. You could also use family home evening to teach younger children songs for special occasions such as Christmas, a baptism, or a brother’s mission call.

If the melody of a new song seems strange to you or you just can’t carry a tune, use the words anyway. My husband has used the words to “Our Friendly Bishop” and “Our Bishop” in discussions with children in his home teaching families. Children gain a greater understanding of the words and meanings of songs if they hear only the words occasionally.

As we teach songs, we need to make sure our children understand them. What would your concept be of Judea’s plains if you were four or five years old? As a young child, I thought the golden plates were dishes; I’d never seen a picture of them. Pictures and simple explanations can clear up confusing ideas, and visual aids, perhaps made with the children’s help, add meaning and help remind them of the words of the song. (Many excellent pictures can be found in old family home evening manuals.) Sometimes, too, you and your child could trade roles, with the child teaching you the song, complete with pictures he has made.

You don’t always have to “teach” children new songs. Children pick up music they’ve heard often. Make it a point to sing “When We’re Helping We’re Happy” as the kids pick up their toys or as the family cleans the yard together. Greet dad at the end of his day with “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.” The children will learn the songs quickly because the words mean something to them. They might also enjoy listening to and singing along with an album of gospel songs. And if you don’t have the albums, you might want to tape your family singing the songs, so the children can sing along anytime.

Sometimes you can use the songs in difficult situations. At times it might be better to replace a lengthy lecture with the song “Quickly I’ll Obey” when a child wanders too far down the block and doesn’t answer your call. The frowning faces around our house are turned upside down with the song “Smiles.” And it is reassuring to a child to be tucked into bed with “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.” You can help prepare young boys for receiving the priesthood through the use of such songs as “I Want to Be a Deacon” and “The Priesthood Is Restored.” And what grandfather wouldn’t be pleased and delighted with a grandchild’s off-key rendition of “When Grandpa Comes”?

Learn the Primary songs. Sing them together as a family. Enjoy the fun and understanding that comes through sharing music. And help your children (and yourself) learn to incorporate the songs’ messages into your lives. Laurie Williams Sowby, American Fork, Utah

Getting to Church on Time

Mormon standard time is a pretty common joke among members of the Church. In the New Jersey suburb I live in, nearly everyone has to drive half an hour or more to church. If we have to stop and pick up someone else as well, it will take even longer. No wonder many of us are so often late, right?

But lateness isn’t confined to areas like ours where distance is a problem. Many members who live within sight of the chapel regularly leave their homes when they hear the first lines of the opening song—or just slightly before. Habitual tardiness seems to be a problem all over the Church. It’s disruptive, and it’s annoying to others. So what should we do about it?

To begin with, we can stop rationalizing that it isn’t important to be on time. Let’s face it—being late is inconsiderate. It also detracts from the reverence in our meetings.

If you really want to be on time, you need to organize yourself. Sunday morning with its many duties—getting children diapered and dressed and fed, getting yourself dressed, making beds, starting dinner, and gathering materials for a lesson—can become hectic. Patience seems to disappear, and the children begin to dread Sunday morning.

To lessen the confusion, take a long analytical look at your usual agenda. Decide how much of it absolutely must be done on Sunday morning and how much can be done ahead of time. Obviously you can’t dress your children or give them breakfast Saturday night before you put them to bed, but you can do just about everything else.

—You can polish shoes and press hair ribbons.

—You can decide what everyone is going to wear and lay it all out.

—You can fix the baby’s bottle and put it in the refrigerator and pack his diaper bag.

—You can put together your toddler’s collections of coloring books and cereal and put them in the car.

—You can round up coats, hats, and mittens and put them by the front door.

—You can locate the car keys.

—You can load the car with anything else you need to remember to bring—the book you’re returning to Sister Norton, the duplicating master for the ward newsletter, or the twenty-eight styrofoam balls for the Relief Society homemaking leader.

—You can decide what you’re going to wear and lay it out. This may sound overorganized, but if you get everything out beforehand, and you notice a run in your nylons, a missing button, or that your dress is in the wash and hasn’t made it to the dryer yet, there’s still time to do something about it.

—You can make any necessary phone calls to determine who you are picking up and when.

—You can completely prepare a lesson, talk, or musical number, and have your books and visual aids (and tape, scissors, and crayons) waiting. There may be time for a final review Sunday morning, but it is usually a mistake to plan on it. You end up leaving not quite prepared—and quite possibly late as well.

—You can clean the house on Saturday. That way, you have only to make beds and hang up pajamas and still be able to leave the house neat and orderly.

—You can plan meals that can be prepared on Saturday.

This is beginning to sound like a lot of work for Mom. Actually, the problem is a family-sized one. Husbands can help in all these plans, and so can children who are old enough to assume some of the responsibility.

A family arriving in plenty of time is more likely to be in a frame of mind to enjoy the meeting and benefit from being there than one hustling in minutes late and out of breath. Why not see what you can do about Mormon standard time in your home? Becky Worthen Kagel, East Windsor, New Jersey

16 Weeks of Menus

To simplify meal preparation and grocery shopping, my wife developed a system which alleviates some of the frustration of these tasks. This method of organization has saved us time, money, and unnecessary trips to the store.

The system has as its base four months of weekly menus used in rotation. My wife planned the menus using a variety of dishes. She occasionally changes menus we have grown tired of and substitutes new ones she thinks we might enjoy.

It is organized on unlined 4x6 inch index cards, one card for each week’s worth of menus. (If you have weekly menus for four months, you will need sixteen cards.) One side of this card lists the menus for the week. This side is divided into two columns. The first column lists the days of the week; the second lists the menu for that day and where it is found in your particular collection of recipes. (This saves hunting for it later.)

The other side of the card lists the ingredients for each meal. Typing lengthwise, type columns for ingredients and quantity. In the columns list the ingredients for each meal and the quantity needed for the recipe.

Cover both sides of the card with clear contac paper or have them laminated. As you shop, use a grease or water soluble pencil to cross off the items. At home, post the menu in a convenient place for reference during the week. When you are finished with the card, just wipe it off and save it for the next time you use that week’s menus.

Another card accompanies the menu card and is used for staples and various shopping items. On one side of the card, list the basics you always need to have on hand. Include such items as vanilla, flour, salt, eggs, milk, bread and oats. As supplies dwindle, circle the ingredients you need. The back of the card is used to list miscellaneous groceries you need to pick up. This card, too, is covered with contac paper or laminated so it can be used again.

With this system we have never had to run back to the store for missing ingredients. We avoid the 5:00 dilemma of “What are we going to make for dinner tonight?” We also can plan ahead and watch for sales on items we know we will be needing for future menus. It takes some effort to get organized, but once started, you are on your way to a more enjoyable mealtime. Curtis G. Beck, Pocatello, Idaho

[illustrations] Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker