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.

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