DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have three daughters ages 9 through 12. As a single mom, I’d like to find some fun, free or inexpensive activities to do with them this summer, either at home or nearby when I’m not working. We live in Lisbon and I’m very mindful of spending money on a lot of gas. I’d love to hear from other parents in the same boat who might have ideas for us. — Sandy, Lisbon

ANSWER: From my perspective, it does seem that everything is expensive these days, but exploring local landmarks, going for walks on the river trail, exploring the library, having the treat of a popsicle at one of the local convenience stores, are all easy-breezy summertime activities. Parents of tweens, please write in with your ideas. We’ll be waiting to hear from you.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have arthritis and the laundry detergent bottles are hard for me to lift and handle. I’m curious about the detergent that looks like a fabric softener sheet and dissolves in water. Do these really work? They seem expensive but it would be worth it if they work well and save me from having to lift a big bottle. Plus, they must be better for the environment. — Judith, no town

ANSWER: I have tried Earth Breeze brand and I’m happy with the product. They are fragrance-free and come in flat paper packets of 60. If you have a regular-size load of laundry, you can cut them and only use half a sheet. There are other brands to try such as Tru Earth, and Well Earth, to name a few. You could also use laundry pods but the sheets are much better for the environment as they contain no plastic so they reduce waste and plastic consumption and take up very little storage space . And besides, the boxes of pods may be too heavy for you to carry home from the store, even though you wouldn’t be lifting the box every day.

Readers, if you use the laundry sheets and have a preferred brand, please share the info.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: On Saturday, July 2, my husband and I went shopping at Walmart and bought quite a few groceries. We are in our 80s and I use a cane to help keep my balance. After we paid and started walking away from the cashier, two teenage girls came up to us with big smiles, introduced themselves, and said they would like to help us out with our groceries. To be honest, I was a little leery, but my husband said yes and asked them their names. Lucy and Jen pushed the cart to our vehicle, unloaded the groceries into the trunk, and told us they come to the store whenever they can get a ride so they can help people. They aren’t old enough for jobs quite yet and don’t want anything in return. They explained that they just like doing it and that it made them happy.

Seeing their smiles and enthusiasm made us happy, too. And we hope to see them again. The encounter made our day. — No name, Bowdoin

ANSWER: What a nice story. I always say, “Angels are everywhere.” Thank you for sharing.

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