Growing More Than Gardens

We began planting a garden many years ago after listening to President Spencer W. Kimball, during general conference, advise Church members to do so (see Ensign, May 1975, 4). Despite many ongoing challenges, some inconveniences, and occasional complaints by the children when it’s time to weed, we have found many positive benefits from following the prophet’s counsel.

  • We learned the importance of planning ahead. Those years when we took time to plan carefully, our garden produced more.

  • We became close to nature and saw the miracle of seeds. We learned to love food harvested fresh from the garden. We feasted on corn on the cob and new red potatoes. We made zucchini brownies and pumpkin cookies.

  • The children learned responsibility, good work habits, and lessons that would help them succeed in life. Plants must be nurtured to grow. Nurturing requires weeding and watering and sometimes sacrifice. Weeds are easier to manage if pulled each day.

  • We learned gardening skills. One year we killed our plants with too much fertilizer, and another year we didn’t water our garden enough. Sometimes snails ruined our plants.

  • The children developed self-confidence as they showed others the fruit of their work. When our son Joseph was in preschool, he planted a pumpkin seed in a milk carton. We transplanted his tiny pumpkin to the garden, where he nurtured it all summer. In the fall, he took a pumpkin to show his friends in school. His pumpkin became a jack-o’-lantern, then a pumpkin pie.

  • Our family learned about the law of the harvest. A successful garden requires planning and work. If we wanted fresh corn in August, we planted seeds in April.

  • Opportunities for sharing and service came to our family as we shared our bounty with neighbors and friends.

Our family grew closer together as we planted, weeded, and harvested together. In time we came to realize we were not just growing a garden, we were growing family traditions. Our obedience to the prophet’s counsel has produced a bounty of blessings in our lives.Trisa L. Martin, Bountiful, Utah

Once upon a Time

Telling stories to children can become a time of special sharing with them. The following questions and answers may help parents as they seek ways to make storytelling meaningful in their homes.

When should I begin telling stories to children? By age two, children enjoy simple storybooks with large pictures, and they will begin to look forward to spending enjoyable minutes with Mom or Dad.

How long should the story be? For children three and under, picture books with a few words on each page are sufficient. From age five and up, stories can take from 1 to 15 minutes to read.

How does storytelling promote closeness? By reading together, both parent and child experience the events of a story simultaneously. As they do this, they focus on each other and share their feelings together, unlike watching television or going to the park, where the focus usually moves outside the two of them.

Can storytelling help children learn to read? Children almost always want to read those stories they’ve heard over and over and come to love. As they begin to learn to read, a familiar story seems easier and more fun to read, and children are more familiar with the words.

Can storytelling be used as a teaching tool? The earliest years of reading can focus on scripture readers and on books that help children distinguish between different animals, learn numbers and letters, become familiar with the seasons, and so on. Everything about the world and how it works is interesting to young children. As children get older, parents can choose stories that teach more difficult concepts. Asking questions about what is happening can help the child evaluate the appropriateness of a character’s choices. Stories can also teach children about other countries or cultures or history.

How can story time be made more fun? One way to make an old story seem new is to draw it out on large sheets of paper as you tell it. Another way to have fun is to let the child tell the story to you.Carolyn Campbell, Salt Lake City, Utah

Temple Bridal Dress Guidelines

On a high shelf in my linen closet is a large box labeled “wedding dress.” I opened it one day and was disappointed to see how extensively my beautiful bridal dress had yellowed. When I made the dress 53 years ago, the lovely brocaded satin was a dazzling white, and it qualified in every way for temple use. But when I saw what time had done to the color, out went my sentimental dream of having a granddaughter wear my beautiful dress. As a temple matron, I had become aware of guidelines for bridal attire, and I knew my yellowed gown would no longer be acceptable for temple use.

Realizing that other members might benefit from this knowledge, I mention the following guidelines (adapted from “Brides’ Dresses for Temple Marriages,” Bulletin, 1992, no. 1, p. 2).

  • Each dress should be white. Many things in the temple are symbolic, and white brings to mind purity, virtue, and cleanliness of body, mind, and heart. Some fabrics may look white until you put them next to a sheet of typing paper. If you are in doubt about a fabric for your dress, try the paper test or take a swatch of the fabric you plan to use to the temple for appraisal before buying or making your dress.

  • Brides should wear dresses that are modest, with a high neckline and long skirt. Temple workers will ask a bride to wear a dickey, or fabric insert, if her dress shows the shoulder or collarbone.

  • Long sleeves are required. Because some current styles of gowns have short sleeves, special sleeve extensions are available at temples throughout the world. However, you may wish to add your own extension from fabric that would look good with your dress.

  • Sheer fabrics must be lined. Camisoles and sleeve liners may be worn under a dress that has sheer areas or see-through lace panels. Brides who wish to use their dresses later for temple sessions, however, must have a permanent lining put in.

  • A train must be removable or designed in such a way that it can be fastened into a bustle during the temple ceremonies.

  • New styles of wedding dresses with long, slim skirts have recently been brought to the temple. These often have a long slit up the side or back of the skirt, extending above the knee. Because such a style is not appropriate for temple use, workers will provide the bride with a long slip or back apron to fill the gap. A bride may wish to furnish her own modest filler instead.

  • Dresses should be free of elaborate ornamentation and kept in harmony with the simple and sacred nature of the temple ceremony. Also, each temple has a selection of lovely wedding dresses that a bride may use for the temple portion of the day’s events.Margaret Richards, former matron, Jordan River Temple

Six Ideas to Strengthen Family Ties

Frame Family-Keepsake Photographs. Take photos of an area that has special family meaning, such as the family homestead, the one-room schoolhouse a relative attended, or the pond where you swam as a child. Gather wildflowers or leaves from the area. Choose a photo to enlarge and frame. Dry and press the wildflowers, then buy or make a frame that will accept a mat at least one inch wide (the wider the better). Use the pressed flowers to arrange a pretty design on top of the matting that surrounds the photo; then label the photo with the place, its significance, and the fact that the wildflowers were picked nearby.

Create Visual Personal Histories. Take photos of places from your childhood. For each location write a short report that describes the area and the memories you have of it, note important events that took place there, and put your ideas together in a special album. Also include on each page old photos, drawings, or newspaper clippings from that era. Copies of the album would make good birthday or Christmas gifts for relatives who share your memories.

Collect Favorite Family Recipes. Create a family cookbook by choosing your own favorite recipes or by collecting recipes from family members, such as recipes for Mom’s best stew or Grandmother’s special cinnamon bread. What about Uncle Jim’s fire-engine hot chili, Great-grandmother Lily’s special seed bread, or Aunt Ellen’s pickles? Add a section for heirloom recipes for stain removers, herbal remedies, homemade soap, or other unique family formulas. These books make wonderful wedding gifts.

Design Family Place Mats. Make a personal place mat for each family member by covering an 11-by-17-inch piece of paper with photos, drawings, maps, clip art, news articles, or other information about a member of the immediate family or an ancestor. When the collage is complete, make a color or black-and-white photocopy so that the collage has a flat surface; then laminate the place mat, or cover it with clear, self-adhesive plastic. Children could even make a place mat for a pet with a collage of drawings or photographs of the pet or of the children playing with the pet.

Arrange a Family History Wall. Choose a large empty wall, such as one beside a stairwell or down a long hallway, and decorate it with labeled photographs of family members both present and past. Include poems, artwork, diplomas, and awards if you like. Choose a wall that does not get direct sunlight, or your photographs will deteriorate quickly. Start in the center of the wall and work outward as you add more things over the years, or start at one side and progress to the other as years come and go. For unique picture frames, watch for sales and visit secondhand stores, garage sales, and antique shops.

Make a Family Scrapbook Album. Buy a three-ring binder and decorate the cover with cloth, or buy one that has a clear-plastic outside pocket that can hold a collage of photos. At an office supply store, buy archival-quality paper and plastic sheet protectors to go inside the notebook to protect your family memories from deterioration. Collect photos, postcards, ticket stubs, letters, and other keepsake items, and arrange them on the pages. Add new pages and albums as needed.Sharleen Wiser Peck, Rochester, New York

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

[photos] Photography by Greg Frei