This House Is Bugged!
Tape-recording your children while they are young—and even when they are not so young—can make a treasured “talking book of remembrance.” It’s one step better than writing a child’s funny words in his or her journal, and it’s not as elaborate or expensive as home movies or videotapes. As a matter of fact, when we started recording our children, we didn’t even own a tape recorder; we borrowed one from the ward library.
Following are a few ways to capture your children’s voices on tape.
The Sly Approach: Turn on the recorder without the child knowing it. One of my greatest triumphs was when I caught my three-year-old playing under the kitchen table. I carefully dangled a mike over the table’s edge and now have a fifteen-minute recording of my child crooning to and loving her doll.
Kitchen-Sink Variety: This is probably the most natural type of recording. Here Mom or Dad chats with the children while they prepare meals or clean up.
Notes on Tape: Anything goes, whether it be an official family choir, a musical recital, or a child singing his favorite songs, complete with his own melodies and lyrics. “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbean” is one we love.
Do-It-Yourself Drama: I know a family who loves to record family dramas, complete with knights in shining armor and fierce dragons. Children can take turns acting and making the accompanying sound effects.
We Gather Together: Some families enjoy taping such events as Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, family reunions, birthdays, or other holidays.
Love at Home: Taping family home evening records the family’s spiritual development. It’s fun to listen to a child answer doctrinal questions or tell a biblical story in his or her own words.
Person-to-Person: Many parents enjoy taping interviews with their children. They can record a child’s progress, hopes, and dreams, in addition to reflecting physical and emotional growth.
A Present for the Future: You may have aunts and uncles, friends, grandparents, or missionaries who would appreciate a tape of your children’s voices—providing it is a reasonable length. While a parent may think her child is an entire tape’s worth of cuteness, the recipient may think ten to fifteen minutes’ worth is plenty.
When making your tapes, remember that the more natural the setting and the more relaxed the subjects, and the better the results. I am a great advocate of truth in taping, and if an argument or resistance occurs during a recording session, I keep my finger away from the “off” button. Someday the incident may be amusing—or, at worst, educational.
Check your recording periodically for excessive background noise or static from a nervous child who is rubbing the microphone against her tummy, mouth, or the chair. Make sure the volume is at the proper level.
The best tapes to use are sixty-minute cassettes, which are less likely than longer tapes to break, jam, or have sound print-throughs. Don’t fast-forward or rewind tapes before storing them; this winds the tape very tightly, increasing the risk of print-through. Keep cassettes away from magnetic fields and extremes of heat or moisture. Store them in their plastic containers to keep out dirt.
To be sure a recorded-on tape won’t be accidentally erased, remove the two square plastic tabs on the back of the cassette. You can still add to the tape or reuse it later by putting cellophane tape over the tab holes.—, Bountiful, Utah
Kitchen-table Bulletin Board
Instead of using a bulletin board for display, use your table! First, put your prettiest tablecloth—even the lace one you never dare use—on the table. Next, put down anything you might put on a bulletin board: quotes, poetry, photos, charts, scriptures, children’s artwork, genealogy sheets. Finally, cover the table with a piece of heavy, clear plastic. Make sure you’ve purchased enough to hang several inches over the edges of the table; ideally, it should be the same dimensions as the tablecloth.
When it’s time to clean up, just wipe the plastic with a damp dishcloth the same way you would any other plastic tablecloth.—, Penrose, Colorado
Dads Need Love, Too
“Dad, can I have a new blouse for the dance?”
“Dad, I need money to register for Scout camp.”
“Dad, give me a dollar. Shelly has some neat stickers, and I want some, too.”
Weary from a day at the office, Dad comes home for some appreciation and peace and is met with “Gimme, gimme, I want, I want.” Is it any wonder he asks himself in exasperation, “Am I just a money machine around here?”
On the other hand, suppose Dad were met with “Hi, Dad! Am I glad to see you! How’s your day been? I can hardly wait to show you my papers from school—I got a hundred percent on my spelling test!”
When our family found ourselves beginning to take Dad for granted, we decided to emphasize our appreciation and love for him. Here are some of the ways we have tried:
We give Dad opportunities to use the priesthood in our home. We ask for father’s blessings in times of stress or sickness, we study together as a family, and we pray often. I also encourage the children to pray for Dad that he might be protected and lead us wisely and righteously.
Because my example and attitudes help determine those of the whole family, I make the effort to openly honor my husband. When he comes home each night, I greet him with a smile and a hug and ask about his day. I also express my appreciation for him frequently in our children’s presence.
When Dad leaves for work each morning, we give him kisses and hugs.
We compliment him—on the way he dresses or combs his hair, his wonderful smile, and the cologne he uses.
We learned more about what he does when he’s away from home. During a family home evening trip to his office, we saw firsthand what he does there.
We have surprised Dad with unusual gifts—subpoenas (delivered by a neighbor) to after-dinner hugs, a membership to the “Society of Special Fathers,” coupons for favors, notes for his lunch, treats, and artwork.
Our “Daddy, I Love You” party was a highlight. We decorated the kitchen and dining room with balloons and crepe paper and made a large sign that said “Dad, we love you” and a sign with the menu—Dad’s favorite foods—on it. We baked a cake and sang “Happy Daddy’s Day” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Showing Dad we love and appreciate him has built a wonderful spirit of unity in our family.—, Lake Villa, Illinois
Hymns at Home
When our choir learned the hymn “I Believe in Christ” by Elder Bruce R. McConkie and John Longhurst, I was so deeply touched by the words and music that I wanted to teach it to my children.
They were cooperative. We learned the hymn on Sunday mornings, one verse at a time. When the choir performed that hymn in sacrament meeting, the children enjoyed it more because it was familiar to them. But the real payoff came a few weeks later, when our music director chose it as one of the sacrament meeting hymns. I was pleased to see my children—even the teenagers—open their books and sing with zest.
We began to make hymn practice a regular part of our Sundays. Since my children did not know many of the songs in the new hymnbook, we had plenty to choose from. In the beginning I taught them hymns that were especially meaningful to me or that I thought would be meaningful to them.
Now I ask the music director for a list of the songs we will be singing in the coming month and choose our hymn from this list.
Worship through song has become a powerful force for good in our family. Hymns have taught and reinforced doctrine, invited the Spirit, touched our hearts, and inspired us.—, Sandy, Utah