Dates with Grandpa and Grandma

We have grandchildren who live out of state whom we can visit only once every year or two. As we prayed about how to make our limited time with them more meaningful, we came up with the following idea.

About a month before our visit, we wrote to the family and told them that we wanted to have a “date” with each grandchild. We gave them a price limit that would cover an activity and food. Our son and daughter-in-law caught the spirit of what we were trying to do and held a family council during which their seven sons made lists of possible places they might like us to take them. The family discussed advantages and disadvantages of each, then the children selected the places that they felt they would most enjoy.

When we arrived, the family had a busy schedule planned for us. Our days were filled with fun as we took one grandchild on his date in the morning, then another in the afternoon. Surprisingly, each child selected a different attraction. From goofy golf and pizza to a movie and a smorgasbord, from a children’s museum and hamburgers to an exotic playground and french fries, each place had its own appeal.

We took several photos while we were on each date. After we returned home and had the film developed, we wrote each grandchild an individual letter, expressing our love for him and the joy we had felt at being with him. We also enclosed a photo or two.

The benefits of this activity were many. Each child had one-on-one time with us and felt that he was important to us. Each was able to do something out of the ordinary that he really wanted to do. The children learned principles of budgeting and decision-making. And we got better acquainted with the boys as individuals.Edith W. Gibbons, Mesa, Arizona

Giving New Life to Old Beans

Should you throw out those dry beans that have hardened after years in storage? No! To salvage old beans, wash and sort them, removing any discolored beans or foreign material. To each cup of dry beans, add two and one-half cups (Imperial pint) of hot tap water and two teaspoons of baking soda. Soak the beans overnight. The next day, drain them and rinse them twice. Put them in a large pot, cover them with water, and cook them until they become tender—about two hours. As the beans cook, add more water as needed. The use the beans in any recipe.Relief Society General Board

Home Evening Helper

“What are we doing for home evening?”

“I don’t know. Whose turn is it to give the lesson?”

“I don’t know. When was our last activity?”

“I don’t know. Has the assignment board been rotated?”

“It’s been so long I can’t remember.”

“Let’s have it Friday. That will give us time to plan it.”

We knew that Monday was family night, but each week when Monday rolled around, my husband, Terry, and I found ourselves repeating this dialogue. Needless to say, we held family home evening inconsistently.

We have a combined family. When we married, Terry had three children and I had two. We’ve since added one more to our family. Each Christmas vacation when five of our six children go to visit their other parent, Terry and I leave the baby with Grandpa and Grandma and retreat for two days. It’s a relaxing time for us. But we’ve also made it a planning time. It was during this planning time last Christmas vacation that we decided to make up a family home evening schedule. We made ours for a year; we wanted it to last until our next getaway, but a shorter schedule would be equally effective.

In our planning, we first discussed the areas in which our family needed to improve. We felt that we especially wanted to strengthen our prayers, faith, relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus, and unity, so we took out our copy of the family home evening manual and found lessons that would help us teach these principles of the gospel.

We decided that we would have lessons on the first three Mondays of each month and an activity on the fourth. Then we wrote down the months of the year and the date of each Monday on a sheet of paper. We chose a monthly theme and scheduled lessons from the manual accordingly. We recorded the lesson number and the person to give the lesson (or the child in charge of the activity on the fourth Monday) beside each date.

We’ve used our schedule for six months now, and we’re elated with the results. We’ve missed only two family home evenings. For us, that is incredible!

Another thing that we have found helpful is to plan our family home evening treat in advance. I’ve made my own typewritten grocery lists and included “family home evening treat” right at the top. That way, there is no last-minute shopping for a special dessert.Judy L. Bristow, Florence, Oregon

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer

[photos] Photography by Craig Dimond