The Nutcracker & Christmas Traditions

The past 2 weeks we have been doing lots of Christmas activities! Last week Mom, Brittany, Brooke, & I had a girls night & celebrated Britt's b-day early! We went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner & then went to the Nutcracker Ballet at Symphony Hall. It was beautiful & amazing as always. Going to the Nutcracker with my sisters & mom is one of my favorite holiday traditions. It always makes me wish I had done ballet! My favorite part was the snowflakes & Snow Queen. I love the music for that dance & they have sooo much beautiful, sparkly snow falling on the stage. I also love the Sugar Queen Fairy. It was such a fun night!

Last night we had our yearly white elephant party with Mark & Laraine's family. We had the party at Laraine's new house, which was beautiful. We had a big Hawaiian meal, teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, hawaiian meatballs, coconut rice, pani popo, pineapple, & otai. Everything was so delicious! The gift exchange was amazing as always! Some of the funniest gifts were a Nsync puppet, crazy 80's cat calendar, head in a bottle, & Lady Gaga singing toothbrush! We sang happy birthday to Dad after & had cake & ice cream since it was his 60th birthday!!!

Some other things we have done this past 2 weeks:

We decorated & delivered gingerbread cookies to some families for cubscouts. It was so fun! We have a really great group of boys right now, they are always so excited for the activities! They loved decorating & eating the cookies & we drove around & looked at some Christmas lights when we were dropping off the cookies! It was cracking me up because one of the boys decorated his cookies so carefully & one dumped about a pound of sprinkles on his. The boy who decorated his carefully kept saying, "mine are a little more basic & yours are all out of control, so we will give someone a plate of each!" Then one of the mom's texted me yesterday & said that her son loved the activity so much he made her make cookies to decorate at home & then kept saying, "These are not good like Sister Duchein's!" Haha, it made my day!

We had a big dinner at Mom's to celebrate Grandpa & Grandma Donna's anniversary. It was nice to all be together! Another night we had a dinner together, went to the Star Wars movie at a theater Cody rented out & then had hot chocolate & tim tam slams.

Ally got here a few days ago, so all of us girls hung out & made cookies together!

Today is the start of Christmas vacation!!! So exciting!!!

Decorating for Christmas

I love Christmas so much & look forward to December all year long. My favorite thing about Christmas is being able to spend so much time with family & celebrating the birth of Christ. I love how everyone is always so happy & loving around Christmastime.

Our families has so many fun Christmas traditions & it has been fun for Nate & I to add some of our own traditions. We started the tradition of getting a real Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Then we decorating the tree & making peanut blossom cookies.

Last year we had just gotten our sweet little puppy, Blitzen, & I remember him looking up at me so cutely as I was making the cookies. This year he was sitting in the same exact spot as Nate was rolling the cookies in sugar.

last year:

this year:

Here are some of my other favorite Christmas traditions:
-Looking at the San Diego Temple lights & driving through Christmas Card Lane & Candy Cane Lane (we started this tradition while we were dating)
-homemade donuts at my mom's house
-Tim Tam slams
-Nativity play & Christmas Eve program**my favorite!
-Christmas Eve dinner & Christmas breakfast
-matching sister pajamas for Christmas (usually opened on Christmas Eve)
-shopping day at Last Chance

Failed IUI

We got sad & disappointing news this morning that the IUI procedure did not work. The past 2 weeks have been stressful & seemed to go by so slowly. I was so excited to take a pregnancy test today, thinking there was a good chance it might be positive. I was told I could take it this morning & I could not sleep at all last night. I woke up at 2am, fell asleep for about 20 mins & then lay in bed, trying to fall back asleep but too anxious. Finally at 4am, I knew there was no way I was falling back asleep so I took 2 tests & nervously waited the 3 minutes. Then I checked them, both negative. It was so heartbreaking & disappointing. It seemed like everything went so well with the procedure & I let myself get my hopes up too much. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us & that everything will work out at the right time, but it is still so hard.

I love this story:
​God uses another form of chastening or correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us. President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”
Years later, President Brown was a field officer in the Canadian Army serving in England. When a superior officer became a battle casualty, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, and he was summoned to London. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. The commanding general said in essence, “You deserve the appointment, but I cannot give it to you.” What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:
“I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall.
“And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …
“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”5
-D. Todd Christofferson

& this quote:
The Lord strengthened them and lightened their burdens to the point they could hardly feel them upon their backs and then in due course delivered them (see Mosiah 24:8–22). Their faith was immeasurably strengthened by their experience, and ever after they enjoyed a special bond with the Lord.
-D. Todd Christofferson

Thanksgiving x2

This Thanksgiving break was one of my favorites ever. We got to have Thanksgiving with both our families & it was such a fun week! First, we drove up to San Diego the weekend before Thanksgiving. Then we drove up to Santa Monica to have an early Thanksgiving with Nate's side of the family. It was so much fun! We cooked food, visited, relaxed in their amazing recliner couches, ate lots of amazing food, & just had a really fun visit. Then we headed back to San Diego & relaxed the rest of the day.

Sunday we went to church with both of our sets of parents (mom & dad were visiting). Afterwards, mom & dad were so nice & treated us to Con Pane & then we walked along the coast at Sunset Cliffs. I looove the view there. If I could have a house anywhere (besides Hawaii), I would choose one of the houses by Sunset Cliffs. Then we drove back to AZ! We both had to work Monday & then I had the rest of the week off & Nate had to work on & off.

Monday night we headed to Tempe & stayed in a hotel down there. Then Tuesday we had our IUI procedure done. We are praying for a miracle that the procedure works if it is the right thing for us!! We went shopping at Chandler mall (we got a cute D ornament & mercury glass candleholders at Pottery Barn, I love that store) & got lunch at a good pizza place & then headed back to Surprise so that Nate could get to an appointment.

Wednesday we went to the movie, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, at AMC with Brooke, the boys, Nate & I, & Britt & Matt. It was a good movie & I always love seeing movies in that theater because they have huge recliner seats. After the movie we shopped around a little & had dinner at Abuelos. It was a really fun day! Nate & I stayed up until midnight making pies for Thanksgiving (pumpkin & German chocolate).

Thursday was Thanksgiving!!! We finished making our food & drove down to Aunt Suzy's in Mesa for Thanksgiving lunch! It was such a fun day & a lot of family was there. We hadn't had a Thanksgiving with the Flake extended family in a long time so it was really fun to see everyone. The food was AMAZING!!! My favorites were the smoked turkey (by my dad), mashed potatoes, stuffing (by my mom),cranberry sauce (by Brooke), & chocolate pies (by Brooke & Britt). I guess that is pretty much everything but it was all sooo good!!! I had a bit of a pie disaster though. I had made a homeade pudding for my German chocolate pie & for some reason it didn't set even though it was refrigerated over night. As I was getting it out at Suzy's, it spilled on my white pants! When I was going to set it out by the other pies it was just looking so soupy, so I just tried to hide it in a cooler & it spilled & got all over the cooler! For some reason, I can cook fine unless it is for an event or big dinner, then something always goes wrong!!!Anyways, it was such a great Thanksgiving!! I didn't take any pictures, but here are a few pictures from family members.

I love my family!!!

The day after, Nate & I got a Christmas tree from Home Depot & decorated it. I love how it turned out! We did white lights & then strung colored lights up in the living room. It was also our first year putting lights outside! We have been blasting Christmas music since before Thanksgiving & I am getting soooo excited for Christmas! I just love the whole season!

I am thankful for my family. I love all of my family & feel so grateful to also have the Duchein family. We feel so much love from everyone on all sides! I am thankful for good health. I am thankful for Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ. I am thankful for prayer & the comfort it brings me.

Fall Break in St. George 2016

I am finally posting about Fall break from October! For the past few years, Nate & I have gone to St. George for our Fall Break to visit Melissa, Sam, & Jenna. This year Nate had to work (it is sad with him not having all the holiday & school breaks anymore) but he was nice enough to let me go visit with my mom & sisters. He's the best!

My mom & I left Friday right after work & got to St. George at about 10pm. Jenna had called while we were driving & was so cute. We asked what her bedtime was & she said either 6:30, 7:30, 2:30, or 4:30, haha! But she said she probably be awake when we got there because she would stay awake in bed. We visited with Melis & Sam awhile & then went to bed.

Saturday morning Jenna came & woke us up & we went on a long walk, talking Lulu with us(Jenna's puppy). Some runners came by & when they were pretty far away, Melissa set her down. She ran extremely fast & chased them about 1/2 a mile without them knowing while my mom & I were chasing after her! Then we got donuts & had a relaxing breakfast. Afterwards, we headed up to Cedar City to see the fall leaves changing. We went to a pretty lake that we had gone to last year & walked around the lake. I love seeing the fall colors & it almost makes me want to live somewhere cold(for a month), but actually I'd just rather visit it!! Jenna caught a little frog & carried it around in her hood with her jacket on backwards so she could see & talk to it, haha! We went to a park with the most gorgeous,bright yellow trees surrounding it & a little river below. I could not stop looking at all the beautiful leaves, it really was gorgeous. Then we headed to a pizza place where we got some delicious bbq chicken pizza. It had tomato sauce on the crust & then BBQ sauce drizzled on top, genius!! I am going to try & recreate that at home!

Sunday we went to church & it was fun to go to classes with Melis. Afterwards, we relaxed, had dinner, played with Jenna in her amazing fort that Sam built, & visited.

Monday morning Brooke came with Britt (who apparently slept the whole drive as well as each day in the car during her visit... haha!), Rhett, Ethan, & Kade. We met at a pizza place to have lunch & then got some delicious ice cream at the Red Barn. After that we went to the most amazing swimming pool. It was indoors & had a big twisty slide with no line & no monitoring, lily pads, & lots of things for the kids to jump on. We went on the slide about 15 times & then stopped once the boys discovered you could spray hoses at whoever was coming down.. It was so fun all being together!

Tuesday we went hiking in the red rocks & down in some lava tube caves. It was such a pretty hike & amazing weather. The boys were all really good at hiking in the caves & rock climbing up the red rocks. Jenna was brave to & loved the caves! In the evening we went to the pumpkin patch. It was so much fun watching the kids go down the big slides, bounce on the huge trampoline, & just seeing all of the fall decor & cute little animals. We went on a hay ride & then headed back to the house.

Wednesday morning mom & I went to the St. George temple. I had never been inside & that was my favorite temple growing up so it was cool to be able to go inside. Afterwards, we made a picnic & went to the most amazing kids park with everyone. It had all of these crazy park features, waterfalls in the splash pad area, & even a volcano that erupted & had smoke every 45 minutes!! We were a little disappointed there was no lava though, would have expected that at a St. George park.. Brooke was pushing the kids on this big thing where you sit in seats and spin & this little boy came up and asked to get on. Brooke said, "not right now" & then a minute later he was back with his mom & asked to get on. Not seeing his mom, Brooke said, "you need to wait" a little harshly & the boy & mom walked off. We were all cracking up & then a minute later Brooke hoped on the ride with plenty of room, hahaha!! We had a picnic for lunch. Mom had bought rolls, meat, & cheese & as we were eating it Jenna said, "this food is not very good", not impressed. After lunch we headed back to AZ.

Classic party in the pantry with Jenna, haha!

It was such a fun visit. I love my sisters & mom so much & am so thankful for how close we all are!

Snowflake Pioneer Day Weekend

This post is late & out of order, but I wanted to post about our weekend in Snowflake this summer. We stayed at my Grandma & Grandpa Flake's big house. I love that house, it has so many good memories. Everyone sitting in the big room on couches, chairs, & the ground to talk until everyone starts almost dozing off. Eating fresh baked bread & crab apple jam while visiting with my sweet grandma. Sitting next to grandpa on his recliner & laughing with him, he still always knows how to make everyone laugh. Riding quads in the cedars. When I was little, my dad would take me on the giraffe neck, which was a hill that went up & down & seemed soooo huge. This year I rode on the back of the quad while Nate drove us up & down the giraffe neck & it seemed so little!!! Sitting on the big lawn & watching all the boys play kickball & enjoying the perfect temperature & green everywhere. Swinging under the big willow tree with my sisters. The parade & watching kids get hit with candy & dance to the music. Time visiting with aunts, uncles, & cousins. Getting ice cream from the old fashioned house. Visiting the old Flake house & reading stories of our ancestors. Going to the night rodeo in Taylor, watching the bucking broncos & eating way too much kettlecorn. I celebrated my 29th birthday (can't believe I'm almost 30!! I went the whole year thinking I was 27, turning 28 until Nate corrected me!) & we did fireworks in the field & mom made my favorite chocolate mousse pie. It was a great birthday surrounded by family!!!

My grandpa isn't doing too great & this year, we had a family meeting talking about options. It broke my heart thinking that their big house might be sold. There are so many wonderful memories there & I have always dreamed of bringing my kids there. I am thankful for all of my wonderful memories in Snowflake & with my grandparents & family. We have such an amazing family & I know that the important thing is that my grandma & grandpa are taken care of. They are the best!

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