Project Grump

Years ago I read an article that said that if children were allowed to work out their own problems without much interference, they would grow to be capable young adults. But one day as I watched my children work out their problems, I decided the article was wrong. The children were learning to resolve their problems by fighting, and fighting and anger were not helping them become capable or happy young adults. I pondered how we could foster Christlike conduct in our home.

At our next family home evening, we launched what is now known in our family as Project Grump.

I introduced the project by reading scriptures such as “Love one another” (John 13:34) and “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1). We talked about how good it felt when everyone in our family was nice to each other. Then I dumped a bag of assorted candy bars onto the floor. These candy bars were to be the reward if we succeeded in the project. Because we seldom bought candy, this was a big incentive for the children.

That night we each set a goal of how few “grumps” we would commit during the week. A grump constituted raising the voice, arguing, or being impolite. On a piece of paper, we wrote our names and our individual “grump numbers” for the week. Those who grumped received marks by their names. At the next family home evening, family members who had fewer marks on their paper than their specified grump number would get the candy bar they had chosen.

As we worked at being kinder to one another that week, we felt the Spirit in our home. Everyone was so enthusiastic about how well the week had gone that we decided to continue Project Grump. We all set goals for an even lower grump number.

Soon I could get through an entire week with less than five grumps. And I noticed an interesting thing: as my grumps decreased, so did my children’s!

Over the years, one child or another sometimes had a hard time getting his or her grumps down to an acceptable number. In this case we would change the rules so we would get a prize only if, as a family, we stayed under a certain number of grumps. The entire family concentrated on helping each other succeed.

Though the project was fun and often a real challenge, the most important benefit of Project Grump was the spirit of love that came into our home as we all learned to deal more positively with each other.JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton, Bountiful, Utah

Sprouting Up

Since the beginning of our marriage, we had tried to keep a year’s supply of food. I knew that in a time of need we could survive on our wheat, honey, powdered milk, and canned food. But I sincerely hoped we would never have to be totally dependent on what we had stored.

Our problem was that our family loves fresh vegetables, and so the thought of having to live on canned food wasn’t very pleasant. Then one day I made a wonderful discovery—sprouts! Our food storage blues were over.

Not only are sprouts an excellent source of important nutrients, but sprouts are vegetables that will grow in any climate. They will mature in three to five days, and they may be planted any day of the year. They require no soil and do not create any waste in preparation, and they can be cooked with little fuel. Also, the seeds and grains needed to grow sprouts are inexpensive and can be stored indefinitely.

As I learned more about sprouts, I began using them in the food I prepared. At first the children were wary of the strange little things in their salads, soups, and casseroles. But as family members became familiar with the new tastes, they liked them more and more.

We have tried many different kinds of sprouts in our family. Some of our favorites are alfalfa, mung beans, lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), wheat, rye, sunflower seeds, and dried green peas. Mustard, barley, fenugreek, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and many other beans or seeds also produce nutritious sprouts.

You can grow your own fresh, crisp sprouts by following this simple checklist.

  1. 1.

    Rinse beans or seeds in a strainer.

  2. 2.

    Put about 3/4 cup of beans or seeds (use only two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds) in a wide-mouth canning jar and fill the jar with water. Cover the opening of the jar with a square of nylon window screen. Secure the screen around the top with a strong rubber band.

  3. 3.

    Let the beans or seeds soak for fifteen hours in a warm place.

  4. 4.

    Pour out the water.

  5. 5.

    Add water and rinse the contents of each jar several times, swishing the water around and pouring it out. Shake the jar so that the beans or seeds all lie on the side of the jar.

  6. 6.

    Set each jar at an angle in a dish drainer or in a flat, slotted storage box. The jar need not be stored in a dark place; in fact, you may wish to place it on a kitchen counter where you can check it frequently.

  7. 7.

    Add water and rinse the contents of each jar morning and night, pouring out the water each time.

  8. 8.

    In two to five days, your beans or seeds will have sprouted sufficiently to eat. Most sprouts are ready to eat when the sprout is out of the seed about 1/16 of an inch, though alfalfa takes at least five days and should be nearly an inch long with tiny green leaves.

  9. 9.

    Rinse, drain, and air dry the sprouts. Remove them from the jars and store them in the refrigerator in airtight containers. Sprouts should stay fresh for about a week.Bonnie Brown Marshall, Provo, Utah

Words That Feed My Soul

I’m enriched when I feast upon the insights of other people, so I’ve developed a spiritual resource book. I collect poems, stories, essays, and anything else that inspires me and keep them in an indexed binder. I use the Ensign, good books, and friends as sources.

I’ve attached to the book’s cover a print depicting Christ, and I keep my resource book with my scriptures. On the title page, I’ve copied a poem by Emily Dickinson that describes how I feel:

He ate and drank the precious Words—
His Spirit grew robust—
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was Dust—
He danced along the dingy Days
And this Bequest of Wings
Was but a Book—What Liberty
A loosened spirit brings—

(In The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1960, p. 658.)

When I feel my spiritual reserves getting low, I take a few moments to open my book and enjoy some thoughts that lift my soul. I’ve also been able to draw on this material for lessons and sacrament meeting talks.

Once a week I transfer an excerpt from my resource book to a five-by-seven-inch index card and place it where my family can see it and enjoy it often.Elizabeth A. Cheever, Ogden, Utah

Making Handouts Count

Giving handouts can be an effective way to share information in Church teaching situations. Here are some questions and ideas that can help you determine what kind of handouts would be best as you prepare handouts for your classes.

  1. 1.

    Does your handout truly reinforce an important point or supplement the lesson in a meaningful way?

  2. 2.

    Is a handout the best way to get the point across? A poster or chalkboard display might be more effective and easier to prepare and present.

  3. 3.

    Using handouts occasionally may be more meaningful for your students than using this method every week.

  4. 4.

    Adding simple artwork or an attractive border, or even using colored paper, can add to the handout’s appeal.

  5. 5.

    Create handouts with information of lasting value. Design them to be easily filed for future reference.

  6. 6.

    Is your handout appropriate for the age level of your students?

  7. 7.

    Is your treatment of the subject in good taste? By using a “cute” approach or inappropriate humor, your handout might actually demean a sacred principle.

  8. 8.

    Would a half or a quarter sheet of paper suffice rather than a whole sheet?

A handout can be an effective teaching tool. Used well, it can help class members learn and remember gospel principles.Mark E. Andersen, Billings, Montana

[photos] Photography by Matthew Reier; photo props by David McDonald