Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams

In very unlike Brea fashion, I am actually posting in the blog while an event occurs. It's 12:58 am MST (that's 2:58 am eastern time) and I'm sitting in the Denver airport. Why you ask? The answer:  unknown reasons. I left DC today on a delayed flight and missed the connecting flight in Denver, which was the last one to Portland for the evening, so I am stranded at the airport. The obvious conclusion is that the weather is bad, as it's December and snow always disrupts Christmas travel. However, the delay was in DC, where it was almost 60 degrees and raining today. A few flights were delayed at the Reagan Airport because they were diverted to Dulles. Weather? Busy? Felt like it? I don't know why, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't weather. Anyway, a 2 hour delayed departure meant a missed connecting flight. The connecting flight was also delayed, but not enough as I found out it left about 15 min before my plane landed in Denver and left about 10 Portland bound passengers stranded over night. BOO!!!!

So I get 9 lovely hours to spend in the mile high city. At least the snow is pretty...and the wifi is free.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mein Ravensburg

The long awaited Germany post!

How about I give a very brief overview and skip right to the pictures. So I arrived via train to Germany where my cousin picked me up to drive me to Ravensburg. The train ride was wonderful with the most incredible beautiful scenery of mountains and lakes! This train ride was nothing like the Ukrainian trains on my mission--so much more luxurious!

The point of this trip was 1) to visit Oma and 2) to experience Rutenfest, the annual festival of my mother's hometown Ravensburg. Ravensburg is an old medieval town that still has the original towers and part of the city wall. The town itself is quite charming and everything a German town should be. Rutenfest is a festival honoring the cities history and culture. There were tons of music, parades, events, and food to celebrate. The Fahnfare is the iconic part of Rutenfest with trumpets and flags, which you hear all weekend long. The weekend itself was a blast, but the best part was spending time with Oma and hearing her stories.

Downtown Ravensburg waiting for the Rutenfest opening ceremonies

Watching the parade with Tante Lizzy and Wally

The "Beer Garden"

 My "cousins" Jessica (and baby Gabriella) and Sabrina

Eating some Hungarian food...fried dough with cheese and sour cream- healthy, right?  It tastes good for about 5 minutes before you start feeling sick, but don't worry, I finished the whole thing. I couldn't let the relatives down.

The Fahnfare on our street. They came and played "Mein Ravensburg" the town's song and performed other numbers as well. Groups like this came around the town all weekend. You can actually request a group to come to your neighborhood.

 Tante (Aunt) Lizzy and Uncle Karl-- my great aunt and uncle. I had dinner with them and interviewed them for family history. It was a bit more challenging than it sounds. I speak very little German and they speak less English. Karl was a soldier during WWII and was in Belarus and then was a prisoner of war in Belarus and Kazakstan (yeah, I learned all that talking to them). Because of that he spoke a few words of Russian and somehow we had a trilingual conversation. Miracles happened so I could speak with my relatives. German words and grammar came back to me that I didn't even realize I learned. It was awful German and probably painful to hear, but somehow we communicated. It was a MIRACLE!

 Yes, it's a bit fuzzy, that isn't your eyesight. Oma's caretaker and friend Frau Punko is still learning how to use a camera. :)

Me and Oma! It's hard to get pictures of Oma because she is going blind and you have to tell her where to look and when to smile. She doesn't hear well either, so communicating is a bit tricky. I love my Oma and am soooo blessed to have spent five whole days with her in Germany. She's an amazing woman, so strong. I got some great pics and recordings from her, plus some quality time.

There you rundown of Europe 2011! This trip was challenging with language barriers, family obligations, and more, but I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to go. Thanks USAID!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Geneve, Genf, Ginevra, Geneva

The multi-lingual, 3rd highest standard of living, 4th most expensive city, and home to the World Health Organization--Geneva, Switzerland is where I spent a week this summer. At USAID I manage grants, and one of those grants are with the WHO. In efforts to learn more and have the grant process run more smoothly, USAID sent me to Geneva for a week. Sounds so official, doesn't it? In reality, it was a three day meet and greet as I met with directors of the many health programs that our grant supports.

 Statue depicting Smallpox eradication 
(Yes, I am a fan of vaccines)

Geneva is a BEAUTIFUL city! I took a red eye flight from DC and arrived in Switzerland early Sunday morning. I was a little nervous landing in a foreign country and having to figure out currency, taxis, and hotels, but as usual I was just fine. On arrival I was enveloped in pouring rain and a whole lot of French. Luckily, everyone in Switzerland speaks English and about 40% of Geneva residents come from outside of Switzerland, it has a very international flavor. The taxi dropped me off at my hotel where I immediately fell asleep for a few hours (I can't sleep on planes and so jet lag and a night of not sleeping was a perfect combo for a long nap.) I woke up just in time to meet two BYU students in the hotel lobby who were there to show me the way to church. I attended the English branch, which consisted of a lot of diplomatic and business families living in Geneva for various jobs.

After church, I was off by myself to explore the city. My hotel was located minutes from the gorgeous Lake Geneva and I simply walked around and enjoyed the scenery. Monday morning I met up with the same kids and they gave me a very brief and fast paced tour of Old Town Geneva. Of course, only after we stopped at the Best Pastry shop in the city--pastries filled with nutella, hazlenut chocolate, and other deliciousness. Meetings at WHO started late that morning and the rest of my day was running from meeting to meeting.

 The world's longest bench

"The Reformers Wall" A monument built to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the University of Geneva, which was founded by John Calvin, a leader in the Protestant Reformation

The meetings were less than exciting, but just as a fun side note, if any of you see the movie "Contagion" the front doors and lobby of the WHO are exactly as shown in the movie. I got really excited watching the movie and seeing places where I had actually been. After meetings each day, I had time to explore. With some other work demands that came up, that exploration time was cut a bit short, but in the time I had, I went running around the lake, visited shops, ate lots of chocolate and yummy sandwiches, and just took this gorgeous city in. Geneva really is quite friendly and easy to navigate and I only wish I had a bit more time to see more of the city and explore the culture a bit more.

 The walkway of flags at the United Nations Building

I had three days of meetings and on Thursday I hopped on a train to Germany to visit die Oma and other relatives...Swiss train rides are so magical! Stay tuned for my next post as I transitioned from French speaking, pastry eating, international flair Switzerland to beer and pretzel eating Germany!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Didenhover Family Reunion: Oregon Coast

In June, all the Didenhovers got together in Waldport, Oregon on the Oregon Coast to spend a week together. With our family growing each year (21), it's hard to get together regularly. The last reunion was 5 years ago, so we were due for another Didenhover extravaganza!

6 full days together at the beach, it was incredible. I love my family. It is a blast being together and watching the cousins play together. My siblings are great and we have so much. It was absolutely wonderful being together.

The weather cooperated for the most part. We had some rainy days, but the sunshine days were gorgeous--70's, clear skies, light breeze. In addition to playing on the beach, we visited the Newport Aquarium, Tillamook Cheese Factory, played games, watched movies, talked, and ate some great meals. All in all, it was a fantastic week.


 All the Didenhover Kids

 Exploring the tide pools in the rain

 Eating "squeaky cheese" at the Tillamook Cheese Factory with my niece Leah

 Washing up after playing in the tide pool at the Newport Aquarium

 Rainy walk on the beach

 Zach (4 years) just chilln' watching the waves

Me and my Papa

THANK YOU DAD and MOM for planning, organizing, andd being the best parents in the world. I love you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Viva Mexico

Oh Mexico...I've never really been, but I'd sure like to go...

I know you are all thinking of beautiful beaches, poolside lounges, and pina coladas with tiny umbrellas...but what if I paint a slightly different picture.

Tacos, taxis, dusty streets, colonial Spanish architecture, mariachi, street fairs, mexican lakes, and did I pong?

All this adds up to a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend in

Mike was headed there for work and invited me to tag along, so we spent our holiday weekend in the lovely land of Guadalajara! Mexico's second largest city, cultural capital, and home of Mariachi music!

In the lovely city of Guadalajara, we did some sight seeing, some eating, and watched a whole lot of ping pong. Guadalajara was hosting the Latin American Ping Pong Championships and Mike was there to promote his new product, the iPong (see retail/online stores like Sears and Amazon to take a look). We spent a few afternoons at the tournament and while Mike did his thing of selling and schmoozing, I tried my best to interact with the Natives and to learn a little more about this basement sport that has gone wild.

Mexican kids playing ping pong outside the tournament
When we weren't watching ping pong, we were exploring the city's cathedrals (including a Catholic Mass where I was blessed by the Priest), markets, street vendors, and taco houses. We also ventured to Chapala, a lake city about an hour away with gorgeous views of the lake and mountains with lake water that was questionable to say the least. We even got a chance to visit the Guadalajara Temple, which has the exact same layout as the Spokane Temple, so I felt right at home (minus the Spanish immersion).

 Catholic Church dating back to the 1600's

 Guadalajara Temple (The Senior sister took one look at me and said, "You don't speak Spanish do you?" I think she was thrilled to speak some English.)


Famous Mariachi

 Guadalajara is BEAUTIFUL by night

 Tacos--so good

For a real taste of Mexico, visit Guadalajara, where tourists and blondes are few and the pick up mariachi bands are everywhere.

Viva Mexico!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Birthdays and Baseball

I love birthdays.  I love half birthdays. I love my birthday. And I love celebrating others' birthdays. My roommate, Whitney hit the major milestone of 25 this year and we decided it was reason to celebrate. I wanted to do something fun, something meaningful, and something memorable. I think, just maybe, that the birthday fesitivities covered all three. Whit isn't really a big party person, so we opted out of the ward dessert night that just happens to coincide with a birthday and plan a real party. This party included dinner, dessert, and a talent show! Whit is full of talents herself (singing, piano, crafts, creative, masterful teacher, and a contagious laugh that earned her a nickname of Giggles), so in return we as roommates decided to provide Whitney with a talent of our own. Here's the run down...

Steff started us out with a bang. She might be slightly obsessive about her new ipad and as her talent decided to showcase this.

Ally, a trained yoga teacher, demonstrated her ability to do the splits.

Marissa LOVES creating in the kitchen and she baked Whitney some wonderful treats.

Mike decided to show off his juggling abilities by juggline 2lb weights.

And I sang Whit's favorite rendition of "Climb Every Mountain" from the Sound of Music...

All in all, it was quite the talent show! I can't wait for next year.

Last year when I moved to the East Coast, I made a goal to visit all the ballparks on the East Coast. Well, that hasn't really happened, but I have attended every Mariner's game in the area. This year the M's came to Baltimore and to Washington D.C. I made sure to attend both games. Unfortunately, Seattle couldn't pull out any wins. There were some heartbreaking losses and I may have shed some tears. I guess with 162 games a year,  you can't win them all (or even half). Still, I am a Seattle fan through and through!

 My angry face as Mike gloated in Baltimore's win over Seattle. Supposedly the Orioles are his team.


Spring Travels

Time to recap my last 3 months. Life is pretty much the same with work, church, friends, etc., but what makes it interesting is all the trips!

April: NYC-Concrete jungle where dreams are made of....

My favorite running buddy, Traci, has been living in NYC for the past year and I needed to make another Big Apple trip while she still lived there. I buddied up with my friends Jackie and Liz and we took a girls weekend in New York. The easiest and cheapest way from DC to NY is by bus, so Friday after work we hopped on a commuter bus and arrived in downtown NY close to midnight. Saturday was perfect! Traci and I went running through Central Park, then Liz, Traci, and myself went downtown and checked out Times Square to see if we could score some cheap tickets to a show (no such luck). Later, Liz and I left Traci to do some studying and resting and we went walking and exploring. One of the best things about NY is the food--on our stroll we found some good street pizza, visited Pink Berry, and randomly happened across Insomnia Cookie, a cookie bakery a few blocks from Traci's place that she was trying to find. I ended up going with Traci to the suburbs for church on Sunday where she teaches Sunbeams and we had a grand ol' time teaching the Sunbeams about keeping the Sabbath day holy. Traci put me in charge of telling the story of the Israelites and manna and how God provided double portion of manna on Saturday so that Sunday would be a day of rest. We prepared pieces of bread for each kid and everyone got to eat some manna! My favorite quote was by a little boy named Cache, who when he finished his bread asked, "I want some more mannas please." Too cute!

NYC is a busy, big, and fast paced's nice taking it in doses and having a local to show you around.

Times Square

Hanging out at the NYC Public Library

Happy Easter in FLORIDA!

Over Easter weekend, 7 friends and myself flew down to Destin, Florida! That's right, Florida. Sunshine, white sandy beaches, warm water, and good times! The trip included lots of beach time, Saturday dinner on a yacht, jet skis, dance parties in the street and lots of yummy food. I need my beach fix every few months and this was the perfect trip to start the summer season!

More beach in VA BEACH

In May, Mike and I decided we needed some more beach, to remedy this, we ventured down to Virginia Beach, VA for the weekend. While I was expecting some warmer temperatures and beach time, VA Beach had something else in store for us--our very own MONSTER TRUCK RALLY! Yes, as we looked out the balcony window late Friday night, we saw the beach scattered with monster trucks and mountains of sand scattered throughout. Now, for me this was no big deal and actually kind of a nuisance since I wanted to play on the beach, but for Mike this was childhood dreams becoming reality. I forced him to go running with me Saturday morning and then I spent the afternoon wandering the beach and trying to get excited over "Grave Digger" and "Stone Crusher" and other monster trucks that supposedly Mike knew and had watched as a kid when visiting VA Beach. To make his boyhood even more complete, we took a ride in one of the trucks! Wow, my life is complete. To round out the day and weekend we also went golfing (I'm a 'natural' according to Mike and of course, I believe him), listened to some steel drum music as part of a local festival, and had some scrumptious seafood on the water. All in all, it was a fabulous weekend.

 Livin' the dream

 VIP pass inside the truck itself

Enjoy the pics and stay tuned for more spring/summer happenings.