Little Cooks at Dinnertime

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” The answer to such a question often brings forth a positive “All right!” or a negative “Oh, yuck!” response, depending on what’s being served. Sound familiar?

My husband suggested it might be fun as well as educational to let our five older children, ages 3 to 10, help with menu planning, shopping, and meal preparation.

To begin this adventure, we wrote everyone’s name on a piece of paper, including Dad’s, and put them in a bowl. Then we laid down a few ground rules:

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    When their name was chosen, they could choose the day of the week to participate and the menu for that day.

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    They would have to select a main dish and something from the grain, fruit, and vegetable groups.

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    No one could duplicate any menu previously chosen.

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    Dessert was optional. However, by the end of the week we ended up having two homemade pies, a trifle, root beer floats, and a made-from-scratch cake.

I drew names from the bowl, and we filled out our menu chart. After all the menus were selected, I made up a shopping list for each person. Then we headed to the grocery store. My husband and I each got a grocery cart, and we divided up the children and did the shopping. By the time we got home, the children were excited about the week’s menus and looked forward to their day to cook. We didn’t hear a single complaint about the dinner menu all week!Marylan A. Hales, Santaquin, Utah

[photo] Photo by Steve Bunderson

Making Temple Attendance Even More Meaningful

The following ideas may help make temple attendance a more enriching experience.

  • Prepare emotionally. Before entering the temple, seek to calm your mind and leave behind worldly thoughts or concerns. If you have a special problem, seek inspiration as you meditate about it.

  • Focus on the person you are serving. Concentrate on what is said and done, and perform your role as proxy well. Imagine that you are the eyes, ears, mouth, and hands for that person.

  • Seek to learn. As you quietly meditate about the things you see, hear, and do, you can gain inspiration about past, present, or future events; Heavenly Father’s plan for his children; and the sacred nature of temple covenants.

  • Ponder and pray. Inspiration and guidance usually come when you are quietly meditating. The temple is a sacred place for revelation. Remember that you are one of only a small percentage of those living in the world who can visit there, so use carefully the special privilege you have to be in such a place.

  • Avoid distracting others. Talking may intrude on the meditations of others, especially those who have come with a special need. Speak in whispers—and then only when necessary.

  • Help create a welcoming atmosphere for others. Be quietly friendly and warm to all temple patrons.

  • Participate in a variety of ordinances. Taking part in the various ordinances will help refresh in your mind the big picture and will remind you of the blessings you have received and the covenants you have made.Daniel Baker, Bothell, Washington

Question-a-Week Family History

On numerous occasions I mentioned to my parents and in-laws, who have never written their personal histories, my desire to read about their lives. Each request was met with “Oh, my life wasn’t very exciting.” I realized that actually sitting down and writing histories may have seemed an overwhelming task to them. So I bought two notebooks and two plastic bags. In each bag I placed 60 questions on separate pieces of paper, such as “What do you remember about your baptism?” and “What was your first job?”

On Father’s Day my husband and I gave the books and questions to our dads and requested they take out one question a week from the bag and write down the answer in the notebook or, if they preferred, on computer.

The first to respond was my father-in-law, who gave us the notebook for Christmas with answers to all of the questions. We enjoyed this gift so much that we sent similar questions to our mothers. By answering only one question a week, our parents discovered that writing their personal history was not very difficult and brought them personal enjoyment.Koral Slight, Yakima, Washington

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

Scripture Sharing

It seemed we were a failure in doing our family scripture study. It wasn’t that we hadn’t tried over the years to do what the prophets had asked. In fact, we felt we’d tried everything—from taking turns reading aloud together and listening to tapes to adding hymn singing and incorporating scripture reading with different mealtimes.

None of our efforts seemed to work for very long, and we felt that we experienced no significant application of the scriptures in our lives. We may have put the scriptures in the midst of the family, but did we have the family in the scriptures?

Then it occurred to me that we each were already studying the scriptures through our involvement in Primary, Sunday School, seminary, and other Church meetings, as well as during our own personal study time. Why not share with each other what we were learning?

As a family we made a goal to try a new method of family scripture study utilizing each family member’s personal course of study. It works this way. Each person has a regular family scripture day. For example, my day is Monday. Scriptures in hand, we meet at the dining room table early each morning. The person whose day it is gives us a reference and shares a verse, chapter, or story he or she has heard or read and the insights gained from it. This usually opens up a discussion of applications, questions, and sharing of experiences and testimonies. The person closes by leading us in family prayer.

Our scripture sharing is working. We have found a way to search the scriptures and discover the deep meaning they can have in our lives. Personal study is enhanced knowing we have to come up with something interesting to share with the family. And as we teach one another, our personal impressions are strengthened, expanded, and added upon.Janice Graham, Pleasant Grove, Utah

[illustration] Illustrated by Julie Armstrong

Helping Children Cope with Emergencies

When we lived in Utah, our family dealt with such conditions as blizzards, high winds, a flood, and a mud slide. After living in California several years, we or our neighboring communities experienced flooding, fires, and earthquakes. From these emergencies I learned some important lessons that may help other families cope with a disaster.

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    Accept your own and your family’s limitations. Disasters tend to create a lot of anxiety and push people to the limit of their endurance. To help everyone cope better, reassure and comfort victims often—especially children. Eat regularly if possible, and rest when needed. Accept help that is offered, both emotional and physical.

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    Children can be easily overwhelmed by a disaster and may experience difficulty in coping. Common behaviors noted in children who experience a severe earthquake include fear, anger, sleeplessness, nightmares, loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability, and impaired concentration. When our family suffered through an earthquake, we were surprised to find that even our older children experienced separation anxiety and childlike dependence and were initially too shocked, dazed, and fearful to help out, which was frustrating to my husband and me. Such signs of stress should not be met with demands, overconcern, or punishment. Calm, positive reassurance is more effective.

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    Limit the amount of news coverage you watch or hear. We found that having constant news coverage, unless strictly necessary, increased our anxiety and heightened our fear. With the news turned off, our family calmed down, began to talk about what had happened, and started working together.

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    People often need to talk about upsetting or dangerous experiences. You can help by being a reassuring, understanding listener. Children will sometimes talk about the disaster for months afterwards. However, after a reasonable length of time, it can be beneficial to divert children’s attention to another subject so they don’t fixate on the disaster.

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    As soon as children are able to help, include them in recovery activities. Doing something positive will help them feel good and get their mind off their fear. Resume normal activities as soon as reasonably possible. This helps children feel that life will return to normal.

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    Keep the family together as much as possible. Children may be afraid to be separated because they fear the event will recur, a loved one will be seriously hurt, and that they will be left alone.

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    Watch your own reactions to the emergency. Your response communicates to children the seriousness of the problem. If parents become distraught, children are likely to become even more frightened. Children take comfort when adults appear to be in control and know what to do. If anyone becomes hysterical, take that person somewhere private until he or she calms down, because hysteria can cause a chain reaction and unnerve others barely hanging on.

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    Remember to spiritually nourish your family with prayer, priesthood blessings, and scripture reading. Often exercising faith through these means can bring a spirit of peace and hope into otherwise trying circumstances.Arlene Anderson Butler, Ogden, Utah

[photo] Photo by Robert Casey