Three Hours of Good, Clean Fun

We paint, clean, garden, and organize. We even do windows! How can five busy mothers accomplish all these things and have fun at the same time? We get together and take turns “hostessing” group work projects in our homes. With all of us working for three solid hours, we enjoy accomplishing a myriad of tasks for one another. One morning every other week from nine until noon, we work on whatever our hostess needs us to do. We have painted kitchen cabinets, worked in the garden, organized children’s schoolwork in binders, refinished furniture, cleaned garages and food-storage areas, redecorated, and scrubbed anything that needed it. We have also used the time to serve, painting three rooms for a family in our ward who moved into a fixer-upper home.

We often bring our children and let them enjoy a play date in the hostess’s home as we work nearby. Providing a good assortment of toys and a movie helps to ensure that they have a good time too.

Five or six committed group members seems to be the right number to accomplish tasks effectively. And, of course, any number of groups can be formed to include those wanting to participate. It’s also a great way to involve extended family and friends who are not members of the Church.

Not only do we now have more organized, attractive homes, but we also enjoy strengthened friendships as we learn from each other and work together. Sharilee Penfold, California

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Raising Smart Shoppers

“Mom, there’s nothing to eat!” Sound familiar? One day in frustration I retorted, “Well, why don’t you buy the groceries if you don’t like what I bought?” I then realized that that might actually be a good plan. I decided to let each of my four teenagers take turns shopping for the groceries.

I established guidelines but left the details to them. For instance, I gave them a set cash amount. They had to first purchase healthy foods: milk, fruits, vegetables, meat, and other essentials. They also had to add to our food storage. Only after the basics were purchased could they buy treats.

Soon they realized that the money didn’t go far, and they started scouring the grocery store ads and clipping coupons. With a planned list in hand, one by one they accompanied me to the store, ready to be in charge. As we shopped, I explained unit pricing, and they decided on the best value. I would answer any questions they had, but the actual purchase decision was left to them, based on the budget and our family’s needs. At the checkout they proudly handed over their coupons and the correct amount from their cash envelopes.

Once I let my children plan the grocery shopping, I seldom heard them complain that there was nothing to eat. Instead, they proved to be smart shoppers—a skill they were able to teach roommates when they moved away from home. Debbie VanDerwerken Schaffer, New York

Emergency Water Storage

Do you have enough water stored for your family in the event of an emergency? If so, is it stored properly? Adults need to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people may need more. Additional water is needed for food preparation and hygiene—for a total of one gallon per adult per day. The Church recommends storing a two-week supply as a minimum. For an adult, that’s 14 gallons (53 liters).

According to, water storage containers should be thoroughly washed and should be airtight and resistant to breakage. Plastic soda bottles are commonly used. If the water has been treated with chlorine by a water utility, you do not need to add anything before storing it. If the water is not chlorinated and is clear, add eight drops of household bleach (5 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon. If the water is not chlorinated and is cloudy, add 16 drops per gallon. Seal the containers tightly, date them, and store them in a cool, dark place. Since many containers are clear, and light can permeate them, you may want to cover them or store them in dark plastic bags. Replace water every six months.

Other water sources in your home include the water heater and water remaining in the pipes, but in the event of contamination, this water would need to be purified. Having ready, potable water available for immediate use is one of the most important ways to help your family be prepared for an emergency.

Family Home Evening Helps:

Family Time Wheel

To better include our two young children in our nightly family prayers and scripture study, we made a wheel-shaped chart during one family home evening. Using cardstock, we cut a circle and outlined four equal, pie-shaped sections—one for each member of our family. We then attached a spinning paper arrow to the center of the wheel with a brad. Next we labeled each section with an activity we wanted to accomplish every night: prayer, scripture study, bedtime story, and love. Whoever spins and lands on “love” gets to tell each family member one thing he or she loves about them. This simple nightly routine has enhanced our family’s communication and unity. Now when it’s time for nightly scripture study, my children race to our chart on the refrigerator to see what their part is during this special time of night. Stephanie Johnson, Utah

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker