Circles of Good Behavior

We have found a way to help keep contention to a minimum within our home while encouraging family unity:

  1. 1.

    Draw 10 circles in a row on a piece of paper.

  2. 2.

    Leave the first five circles blank—these become “free” circles.

  3. 3.

    In the last five circles, write down an activity or treat that the whole family enjoys, such as games, TV time, or desserts.

  4. 4.

    Post the paper in a central place, such as the refrigerator or a bulletin board.

  5. 5.

    Explain to the family that when there is fighting or arguing in the home, Mom or Dad will cross off one of the circles. The first five circles are “free” and help the children learn that everyone shares responsibility for a peaceful home. After that, each time a circle is crossed off, the entire family misses out on that item or activity listed inside the circle for the rest of the week.

  6. 6.

    Start with a fresh sheet of circles each week.

  7. 7.

    If all the circles get crossed off, cheerfully say, “Next week we’ll do better.” Remind them that when the whole family cooperates, everyone is happier.

  8. 8.

    Gradually decrease the number of free circles.Marianne Wilson McKnight, Penn Valley, California

History As It Happens

After I wrote my personal history, I decided to update it whenever something important happened. Two years later I married and wrote several pages to bring my history up to date. Then life became very hectic, and months slipped into years. Finally I realized I needed a better system to keep my personal history current. The following ideas have helped.

When shall I do it? The start of a new year lends itself nicely to review and reflection. Many people relate the year’s events in a Christmas newsletter that can easily be expanded and added to their personal histories.

Birthdays are also appropriate times to write about the past year. Parents can use birthdays to help children recap the year’s events, including notes about physical growth, interests, friends, and accomplishments.

Students may find the end of the school year to be a good time to look back and summarize the events of that grade’s experiences. Couples may choose a wedding anniversary, family reunion, or other annual event as an occasion to update their personal histories.

What shall I include? An update covers important or memorable events such as family challenges and achievements, job changes and accomplishments, vacations, and visitors to the home. Significant community events, topics and trends in the national or international news, and other interesting background details might be added.

Although a personal history is usually an overview of one’s life, it may also contain enriching details such as personal growth and insight related to one’s testimony and Church callings and activities. Wisdom acquired from life’s experiences, and other personal spiritual experiences that might strengthen future generations, should also be recorded.

How shall I organize my material? There are several ways to arrange material for a personal history update. By far the most common method is to list events chronologically.

However, if you have a large amount of material, a topical approach might work better. Some topics might include family (growth and development of children, births, deaths, and other major events), home and neighborhood, job, church, personal insights and observations, and development of talents.

Another way to approach the task is by order of importance. Rate the year’s events from most to least important and discuss each item in turn. Perhaps using a newspaper approach about personal events would work: “The Five Biggest News Stories of the Year” complete with headlines.

Where do I find information? There are a number of sources to check when deciding what to include in each update. The most obvious, of course, is your personal journal, which may contain rich details about major events.

Another resource is letters, both those sent and those received. Letters written and saved on the computer can easily be edited and added to a history.

Calendars and date books often contain a variety of interesting and humorous notes reflecting the family’s activities, celebrations, and milestones. Photographs taken during the year—dated and marked with names and places—are also useful. Keep each year’s photos together in a box or album.

Scrapbooks often contain concert programs, birthday cards, artwork, postcards, certificates, invitations, newspaper clippings, and many other small items that bring back memories year after year. Even if you prefer not to permanently keep such items, they may be useful to save until you have updated your history.Ann Woodbury Moore, Scotia, New York

[photo] Photo by Welden C. Andersen

A Date to Remember

As president of the Jordan River Temple, I often notice couples coming hand in hand to the temple on their wedding anniversary. These couples come to remind themselves of the sacred promises made and to relive special memories.

To those who wish to revisit the temple on their wedding anniversary, the following ideas might be helpful.

  • Plan so you can have an unhurried experience in the temple.

  • Make arrangements ahead of time to do a sealing session, and appreciate once again the beautiful words of the sealing ceremony. This can be a rich experience that can strengthen your commitment to your marriage.

  • If time permits, consider participating in initiatory ordinances or an endowment session, listening carefully to the wording of the ordinances as you recommit yourselves to keeping your covenants.

  • Spend some extra minutes in the celestial room holding hands and recalling the sweet feelings that first brought you together.

Going to the temple on your anniversary not only sets an ideal for your children or grandchildren but also offers an opportunity to share with them your testimony of temple marriage as you talk or write to them about your feelings.LeGrand R. Curtis, President of the Jordan River Temple

[illustration] Illustrated by Julianne Allen

A Day in the Park

At the beginning of each summer, our ward Relief Society presidency prints up a list of local parks that we may want to visit on a certain day each week during the summer. The list includes information about the park and directions to get there. We arrive at the different parks midmorning, and mothers and children bring their own picnic lunch and any needed play equipment to have fun in that park. Each mother is responsible for her own children and for leaving the park clean.

Through the years we have continued to find new and fun parks to include on our list. Some parks we have visited have beaches, play toys, swimming areas, or petting zoos. Our children look forward to this day each week when they get to play with friends from the ward, and many mothers have developed or deepened friendships through this activity.Jeanne Ellerbeck, Everett, Washington

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Our Own Home Commandments

We found that by letting our children help us make a list of 10 home commandments, they were more interested in trying to live up to them. We posted the list and have referred to it often.

  1. 1.

    Love God—even more than friends or toys.

  2. 2.

    Worship God—try to learn His teachings.

  3. 3.

    Talk nicely—don’t yell or sass others.

  4. 4.

    Keep Sunday holy—make it a happy and peaceful day.

  5. 5.

    Love and obey parents—do chores before being reminded.

  6. 6.

    Control your feelings—don’t fight or hurt others.

  7. 7.

    Be clean and modest—keep your body covered, and wash it often.

  8. 8.

    Respect property—don’t take things without asking or break things that belong to others.

  9. 9.

    Tell the truth—be honest.

  10. 10.

    Be content with what you have—feel gratitude, and remember to thank others. Don’t envy others’ toys or brag about your own.Patricia Harwood, Malad, Idaho