Dec 27, 2011

Christmas in Pictures

The Tree
Snowman-thanks BP!
Love this nativity
The stockings were hung...
Christmas Eve
Progressive Dinner
Benjamin Family Singers
The Nativity
Love the Sheep!
The Whole Group
Christmas Eve Tradition
New pajamas
Ready for bed
Santa came
More Santa
Cinnamon Rolls
Presents after church
Family Game Time
HP books for the fanatic
Decision Making Help
Cosmo Pillow Pet
BYU retro style
Noticing a theme here?
Presents from Grandparents

Dec 21, 2011

Christmas Favorites

Temple Square on Monday-we missed you Ashley!!
Have I mentioned that I love Christmas?  As a child it was a magical time, the days dragged on, and I thought Christmas would never come.  Now as an adult the days fly by, and it comes usually before I am quite ready.  I love the season, and call me weird, but I love the craziness too.  Normally I find having so many things to do stressful, but not at Christmas time.  I thought as a kid that being an adult at Christmas must be boring, but if anything I like it better.  I love being Santa, I love watching little kids eyes shine, I love finding gifts that my kids will like (even though that doesn't always work out perfectly, I still enjoy the process), and mostly I love that as an adult I recognize more about the true gifts of Christmas.  As a child I could not even begin to comprehend the Savior and the atonement, but now as an adult the love I feel for and from the Savior this time of year is almost consuming.  I taught Young Women's on Sunday, and I so appreciated having to prepare for that, as each day it kept my thoughts focused on the Savior.  So as the countdown to Christmas gets shorter and shorter, but my list of things to do seems to get longer, I find that I anticipate the day almost as much as I used to as a child.  My 12 year old says she is so excited for Christmas that it hurts.  It truly is a wonderful time of year, with the best part being having everyone home and having several days to just relax and enjoy each other.

Some of my Christmastime favorites-
  • Christmas music-love it! (well a lot of it anyway)
  • Mom and Dad's Christmas candy-carmels, toffee, fudge, peanut brittle and so much more.  As a kid they would make the candy throughout December and then hide it.  We would assemble plates and deliver them to all our neighbors on Christmas eve.  I often would be delivering plates in my curlers (had to look spiffy for Aunt Helen's Christmas Eve party).  I always had a particular fondness for "Chews" which is a caramel and nougat mix, so yummy.  It would become my quest to find the hiding place and sample as much as I could get away with without getting caught.  
  • Seeing the lights on temple square.  We just went on Monday night for FHE, seeing all the lights and the magnificent Salt Lake Temple is always a favorite for me.
  • Tab Choir Christmas Concert.  I don't always get to go, but it always seems more like Christmas when I do.  It was wonderful again.
  • Christmas Eve party-as a kid my Mom's aunt had a 'fancy' Christmas party.  We would dress it our Sunday finest and travel to Salt Lake from Brigham City.  Her house always looked like something out of a magazine, and there was always some strange jello with carrots and nuts and other stuff in it that I refused to eat, but it was always fun to be there.  I loved singing Twas the Night Before Christmas with my family, and drinking Aunt Dory's punch.  I loved my red velvet jumper that I wore for the few years it fit me.  And the best part was getting home super late, so I didn't have to pretend to sleep any longer than was absolutely necessary.  Aunt Helen is long gone now, and we have different traditions that we have started with our own families, but I will always remember those parties.
  • The kids acting out the nativity.  They are getting older now, but I still love it.  I love looking at the pictures through the years as my kids have gone through being baby Jesus, to angel, to Mary or Joseph, to the star or narrator.  
  • Cinnamon Rolls-my Mom is an expert cook/baker.  Her cinnamon rolls are to die for.  Christmas morning always came with wonderful, melt in you mouth cinnamon rolls.  We carry on the tradition in my home now.  I don't know that my rolls are as good as Mom's yet, but it just wouldn't be Christmas without them.  We have since added a breakfast casserole on Christmas morning to go with the cinnamon rolls, which my Dad always makes sure to show up for. 
  • Christmas movies-No season would be complete without watching White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life.  I still enjoy the old animated movies too, like Rudolph and Santa Claus is coming to town.  I always loved the "misers" from the Year Without a Santa Claus, and my kids love it too.  We watched their songs over and over the other night.  
  • Christmas Eve Pajamas-homemade or store bought Christmas Eve would not feel right without them.
  • and so much more....

Love my little shepherds. Christmas 2003

Saw this quote on my cousins facebook page.  Thought I share it.  Merry Christmas everyone!
The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well.

(Elder Neal A. Maxwell in That My Family Should Partake, p. 86.)

Dec 14, 2011


I love living in Utah, most of the time.  I love the four seasons.  I love the cold and the snow.  There is one thing I do not like though, and that is the inversions that we get every winter.  We live in a bowl thanks to all of the beautiful mountains that surround us, and sometimes the cold air and pollution get trapped by warm air above, leaving us with air you could chew.  It's not pretty and definitely not healthy!  We have been stuck in an inversion for a few days now, and I am ready for it to be gone.  We need a good storm (I would prefer a heavy snow storm or even rain-anything but wind please) to get it out of here.  In the mean time I am stuck running on the treadmill, and just for the record - I hate, loathe, despise and abominate the treadmill.

Dec 10, 2011

Glimpse of Heaven

My life has been full of learning experiences lately, the one I had today was my favorite kind.  One that is full of so much joy that you can't contain the tears of happiness that flow freely.  We have had a busy week, with the aftermath of the windstorms, a neighborhood get together, Christmas recitals, a trip to Salt Lake to see the lights with the YW, Bishopric training that wives were invited to, and wedding receptions.  Because of all that we didn't have one night that was just spent at home this week.  Don't get me wrong it was a great week, and I enjoyed everything that happened, it was just a busy week.  So when I got the phone call saying that my aunt was going to the temple today, I questioned if I should go.  I thought about it, but decided this was an opportunity I did not want to miss.  Remember my post about my Uncle Joe's funeral, well my aunt, his wife, went to the temple today for the first time.  This sweet little 86 year old woman has waited for 64 years, in her words, for this day.  She is old and stooped, but there was an unquestionable light shining in her almost sightless eyes.  As I looked around the temple and saw that it was filled with my extended family, including 3 of my 4 sisters and my parents, I too was overcome with emotion.  There must have been 60 or more Twitchell relations in the temple together.  All six of my aunt's children and their spouses were there, as well as many of her grandchildren.  What an amazing influence this one tiny woman has had on the lives of so many.  As we all stood there crying and visiting at the end, I looked around at the beautiful Bountiful temple and all my family, I had the overwhelming feeling that hasn't left me, that this is what heaven is like-surrounded by your family and filled with unspeakable joy.  I know that no sacrifice is too great to experience the joy I felt in the temple today.  We as frail and arrogant human beings often think that happiness can be bought or achieved through worldly accomplishments, that earthly pleasure is more important than covenant keeping.  How sad that we often can't or won't see that the greatest blessings are found right where Heavenly Father says they can be found.  How grateful I am that Heavenly Father blesses us with small glimpses of what He has prepared for us to sustain us and strengthen us throughout this mortal experience. 

Dec 5, 2011

Lessons Learned

Our neighborhood yesterday from Chopper 5-a local news helicopter
What a weekend!  Technically it wasn't a weekend since it started on Thursday, but it feels like a weekend because of the circumstances.  I already went over the details of the storm so I won't relive that again, but it is interesting how challenges can either bring out the worst or the best in people.  I believe this weekend brought out the best.  My Dad is 80 years old, and he had three downed trees in his backyard.  He could have whined about it or complained or expected someone to come help him out, but instead he went out and got his old chainsaw and went to work.  His grandsons and my brother in law helped him by hauling out the branches and the stumps, but he was out there working the entire day.  He has always been an example of not complaining and just going to work.  The next day when you think he would be exhausted and needing a rest, he was over at my sister's house who also lost two trees, one gigantic one that they are estimating was around 100 years old.  He worked all day there, I swear he is still as strong as an ox.  What a great example he is to all of us, when I grow up I want to be like him!  There is still so much I can and do learn from him.

A neighbor just down the street from my sister lost around 30 trees-their neighborhood was there starting Thursday as the winds finally died down, until last night hauling out trees.  My sister told me of a man in their ward who felt prompted a while back to buy a big and expensive chain saw.  He thought it was silly, he already had a chain saw, so he ignored the prompting.  It kept coming though, and he bought it, wondering in the months following why?  Well this man spent all day from sun-up to sun-down the last few days sawing up all the downed trees.  His chainsaw was put to good use in the service of others.

My sister's yard was such a mess, there is no way they could have gotten that tree out and all the mess out on their own.  She talks about how even though she was overwhelmed and so sad to lose the trees, she knew that people would help them out, and they did.  Family and friends were there Friday and Saturday.  They even had friends that had equipment to remove the huge pieces of trunk that were impossible to lift.  By Saturday evening all that remained was the stump.

Yesterday we arrived at church, only to find that our meetings would be cancelled and we would have a shortened Sacrament Meeting.  After meetings everyone that was able was asked to meet in our circle to gather to clean up all the branches and piles of debris and to move it out, because we were under yet another high wind warning for last night.  All those branches and things did not need to become projectile missiles at everyone's already damaged homes.  Our ward showed up and cleaned up the neighborhood in record time. We were concerned about my parents branches in front of their house.  They live in an elderly neighborhood, and so we sent my kids, my sister and her family, and with some neighbors and the help of a cousin from Salt Lake, cleared away all the branches.  And yes, my Dad was the last one working.

Probably the coolest thing about this weekend was watching everyone work together and help each other out.  My niece's husband put it perfectly that this weekend gave everyone an opportunity to live their religion.  We often talk and preach about serving and bearing one another's burdens, but this weekend especially on Sunday was an opportunity to live it.

In our shortened meeting one of our neighbors shared a thought that I have been thinking about-  He talked about the winds and the damage it did to our homes.  Then compared that to us and how are we prepared to weather the storms of life.  Not a new comparison perhaps, but always a timely one.  If our foundation is Christ, there is no storm that will destroy us. ( Helaman 5 verse 12 )

Then last night we gathered to share a Twitchell family tradition.  We always gather to eat, go caroling at a rest home, and then watch the Christmas devotional.  Because of circumstances we decided to eat later and skip the caroling to allow everyone to work later.  When we arrived at my sister's the power had just gone off.  The food was not quite done, but we found a neighbor who had generator and finished cooking the food there. We lit candles, and were prepared to enjoy a "romantic" dinner with family.  Just as we were about to begin, the power came back on.  As we talked of Christ, the parallels with light and power cannot be ignored.  Truly Christ is the light in the darkness.  Knowledge and testimony of Him can fill even the darkest corner of our lives with light.  What a great way to end the weekend with family and watching the prophets.  May we continue to keep the spirit of Christ and His light in our lives throughout the remainder of this holiday season.

Dec 2, 2011

Wicked Winds Wrath

My sister's tree.  This picture was taken before all the damage was done though.  Her yard is piled with branches and sticks from her trees and others.
Wednesday night I went to bed knowing that there was a high wind warning.  This is not an unusual thing to have in our area.  We get canyon winds that can be pretty intense.  I have more than once laid awake through the night listening to my windows rattle and things blowing around outside.  So, I just went to bed hoping to get some sleep.  Sure enough I was awakened a little before 2 in the morning by the wind whistling through our chimney and shaking windows.  I decided to go down in our basement to sleep on the couch because you can't usually hear the wind downstairs.  Unfortunately this windstorm was of a different nature, and even the basement was plagued with the wailing moan of the wind coming down into the window wells. Just after 6 am we lost power, and the wind coming in through the doors and windows quickly made our home a frigid place.  Every so often we would hear a loud pop or smack as flying objects assailed our house.  Once some shingles came at our sliding glass door with such force that we were certain it was coming in.  Thankfully it didn't.  Others in our neighborhood weren't quite so lucky as their windows came crashing in. Every time I went upstairs I could here the shingles peeling off our roof.  Early in the morning the wind was intense enough that not only were the windows rattling, but the entire house was shaking.  Later we learned that our area was hit with winds around 100mph.  That's a category 2 hurricane wind speeds.  We feel lucky that damage at our house was not extensive.  We lost about a 1/3 of the shingles on our roof, and had some siding damage, but that is about it.  Almost every home in our neighborhood is missing siding or shingles or both.  Most people's fences are missing sections or completely down. Not sure anyone's tramps are still in their own backyards, and there is garbage and trees down everywhere.  We only have two sorry trees in our yard and they are both still standing.  Our poor peach tree has gone down more than once, but has survived and it battled the storm yesterday without falling.  I guess Tony got it staked well this last time. We went over to my sister's in the afternoon since she had power and we didn't.  As we drove I saw tree after tree down.  So many huge pine trees down.  Just on one golf course they lost around 400 trees.  Tony says on a positive note the course will be easier to play now.  Some trees fell on houses, crashed through power lines, smashed cars, etc.  We were so happy that our power was back on last night so we could again rest in comfort and warmth and blessed silence after the night before, unfortunately not everyone had power restored last night.  The kids were glad that school was cancelled yesterday because of the winds and again today to make sure buses and schools were repaired and warm for kids to return to school on Monday.  We have had kids attending school in Davis County since 1996, and this is the first weather related school closure we have had.  We have had school through snow, wind and even power outages before, but Mother Nature won out this time.  I'll be ok not to have another windstorm like this anytime soon!
Even the Golden Arches were not spared.
One of the many examples of why so many people were without power for so long.  Some are still without power 24 + hours later.
This semi blew over just down the street from us.
This is not an uncommon site.  My parents lost three big pine trees, thankfully though none of them hit their house.

Nov 29, 2011

Christmas Music?

Ashley in our house in Provo.  Love old photos and memories.
As I was walking through the store yesterday, they of course had Christmas music playing-it is the season officially now.  As I was walking down a toy aisle a new song started.  It was Barbra Streisand's version of "My Favorite Things."  I realize that there are lots of songs that don't deal specifically with Christmas, but I just wondered who decided that that song was a Christmas song? I love the Sound of Music, it is one of my all time favorites, but I associate that song with summer and thunderstorms.  I also like that in the movie it is upbeat and happy, but it has never struck me as something that should be sung this time of year.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I for one vote that it should not be sung at Christmas time, especially not the Barbra Streisand version.  Totally made a happy song all gloomy and depressing, it did not make me feel better.  So I will not be adding it to my favorites list anytime soon.

Some of my favorites are:
  • Carpenter's Christmas album-love it, we play it every Christmas morning. (Love thinking about my Dad trying to sing Merry Christmas Darling-had to do it in falsetto. It was hilarious)
  • The Osmond's Christmas album-always have been a fan of the Osmond's
  • Andy Williams-The best version of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
  • The Forgotten Carols-The Innkeeper always makes me stop and think.
  • Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, love the movie, love the song. Nobody sings it like Bing.
  • Twas The Night Before Christmas-Twitchell version-we sang this every Christmas Eve at my Aunt Helen's Christmas Party.  I always thought my Dad would make a good Santa Claus (he could even do the white beard now if he would let it grow)  I loved the little flannel pictures that it was my job to put up on the board while we sang.
  • Any Christmas song that we sang around the piano together as a family.  It was a favorite family past time to gather around the piano and sing all the time, but I loved doing it at Christmas time especially.
  • The Christmas Hymns-love December and singing the Christmas hymns every Sunday.
  • Christmas music that my kids play on the piano.  It is always their favorite music to play, and they will practice those songs without complaint.  Jared spent several hours (no exaggeration) practicing yesterday learning the Jon Schmidt version of  I Saw Three Ships.  
Jared performing his Christmas piece.

Nov 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Five of the six-hadn't baked the Pecan Pie yet.
Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas decor is now adding a little holiday sparkle to our home, but it just wouldn't seem right to not have a post dedicated to Thanksgiving.  It is so nice to have a little time to just relax and enjoy family, food, football and food.  (yes, I meant to type food twice-which is why I will be exercising extra this coming week).  The girl's both came home on Tuesday evening, and I have thoroughly enjoyed having all 7 Benjamin's under the same roof again.  It is louder and messier, but so much better.
Highlights of the Holiday
  • Five Guys Tuesday evening (Jared ate a 1/2 lb. hamburger and wanted another one. What I want to know is where he puts it?)
  • H&M with the girls on Wednesday.  Not sure what the big deal is about that store, but it was packed.  Gave me just a little bit of claustrophobia.
  • Harry Potter night. 
  • Pie making.  I made 6 pies while Tony and the kids played football and then basketball with the kids.  Only have one pie left, that I am sure Tony will take care of.
  • Thanksgiving dinner with family.  Eating way too much.
  • Seeing the Tanner's cute little grandkids.  (I think I am ready to be a grandma.  I need to buy baby stuff again.)
  • Sock shopping with Tony.
  • Leftovers Friday evening.
  • Kneader's for breakfast with Breanna and Tony.  Wow, the French Toast is to die for.
  • Putting up the Christmas decorations.
  • Lexie's loudness.
  • Ashley constantly saying-I can't, I have Carpal Tunnel. (unfortunately she does, but she is trying to make the best of it-hard when you are a piano major though).
Thanksgiving festivities were a little too much for them.
 I am so thankful for my family.  Nothing makes me happier then being with my kids, and watching them get along so well.  Having Tony home too, made it a special treat. I have much to be thankful for.  I am thankful for my amazing parents and my sisters.  How grateful I am to still have Mom & Dad here with us and still healthy and happy.  Funny thing I have acquired a pretty nasty cold this week, but I still have enjoyed every minute of this holiday.  And I feel grateful that it didn't hit hard until after Thursday so I could still taste the food.  Any mention of gratitude has to include the Savior, for He has made the things I treasure most possible. To quote from The Living Christ-"He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

Nov 21, 2011

The Spirit is the Same in Any Language

Yesterday my new visiting teachers came.  One has been my neighbor for years, and I was actually her visiting teacher for a few years.  The other one is a sweet little lady who speaks Spanish, and some English.  She gave the message from conference in Spanish, and I am happy to say that I could pick out quite a bit of it.  My Portuguese is very rusty, and it is different than Spanish, but I could understand a lot of what she said.  What was even more clear though was her testimony and her sweet spirit.  I could feel it even if I couldn't understand every word.  It was actually a really cool thing.

I have recently starting cooking more and more things in the crockpot.  It just works out better.  I can fix food when I have time during the day, instead of trying to make dinner when a million other things are going on after school is over.  I tried this recipe for Chicken and Dumplings, and I really liked it.
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of butter
1 (10.75 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 oz) can of cream of celery soup
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
Chicken boullion seasoning or cube
salt & pepper
*As for the dumplings… Use 1  package of refrigerated Grands biscuit dough, torn into pieces.
1. EXCLUDING THE BISCUITS put all ingredients in…
2. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
3. About an hour (give or take) before serving, remove chicken and pull into pieces and return to the soup mixture, place the torn biscuit dough in and cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

I have made this twice now, and the first time it was way too salty for my liking.  So the second time I used a lower sodium chicken broth (it wasn't salt free, just 33% less salt or something like that) and I did not add any extra salt.  I liked it much better without the extra salt. I guess it just depends how salty you like things.