Monday, January 28, 2008

"Runnin' just as fast as we can (can, can, can)..."

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Hoffman Household. We kicked off the New Year with a bang at the Rock n’ Roll ½ Marathon in Phoenix. It’s a fun, flat course with bands every mile or so. After a somewhat rocky start that included a forced pit stop at McDonalds (over-hydration!), we finished with a strong and much-faster second half. We literally danced in the streets, sang along to the bands and had a fantastic time. While Ben and I have run several races separately (3 half marathons, 1 full marathon, 1 triathlon) this was only the 3rd race we’ve done together. It was awesome to have Ben beside me after doing the marathon solo last year. It also felt great to have fun while running - something I used to think was impossible!

Check out this picture from the start line. Can you find us in Coral #8 among the 30,000 other racers?!

The following weekend we had a very special (and somewhat ridiculous) celebration for our favorite puppy pal, Charlie. We couldn’t let his 1st birthday pass without recognition. As a recovered non dog-lover, I can imagine how silly it sounds to have a birthday party for a dog. But here’s the rub…we just don't care! Ben and I rounded up Charlie’s closest friends for an afternoon at the dog park complete with a dog-friendly birthday cake!

Doesn’t he look like the happiest birthday puppy ever?!

We celebrated MLK day the all-American way...with a day trip to Mexico. Our friends Lisa and Mike escorted us on our first road trip across the border (we actually walked across) and helped us navigate the, uh, wonder that is Nogales. We had a fabulous lunch on a patio complete with some amazing margaritas and food that still makes my mouth water.

And honestly, what is a trip to Mexico without sombreros and a donkey?!

This past weekend's highlight was the amazing discovery of Ben’s hidden talent for “Dance Dance Revolution”. After yet another amazing meal courtesy of Erin's culinary genius, we decided to “break it down” with a dance off. John and Ben were amazing although a bit River Dance-esqe due to lack of movement in their upper-halves. Erin and I got imaginary bonus points for style, but my lack of true skill killed us. I need practice!

The rest of the weekend was spent in recovery mode from all the fun with a little spring cleaning/closet organization for me and lots of studying for Ben. It felt good to get rid of all the stuff we don’t really need and donate it to someone who truly is without.

We are so grateful for our full and fun lives, complete with so much more than we need….

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Christmas Miracle!

A few years ago, Natalie and I (who, we will freely admit, transform into giddy 5 year old versions of ourselves at Christmas time) began calling anything and everything fun that happens while home for the holidays, "A Christmas Miracle!". There was no shortage of Christmas miracles this year, both big and small...

Our vacation was kicked off in style by a fun party hosted by our brave and amazing friends John and Erin. After a horrendous week, they somehow pulled off a beautiful evening with tons of wonderful food and a very exciting "White Elephant" gift exchange (truly a Christmas miracle!). Our offering for the exchange was the film "Donnie Brasco" (a shout out to the Pistone family!). We walked away with fabulous prizes and a special gift for Charlie from "Uncle Tim" who had this to say about Charlie..."Charlie is not made of hair and paws...he's made of LOVE."

We could not agree more with Tim's sentiment. As this was Charlie's first Christmas, I'd go so far as to say his very existence (and his ability to transform me into the person who blogs about a dog) is a Christmas miracle!

We arrived in PA with our luggage (a Christmas miracle), and had a wonderful time in Pittsburgh with friends and family. Matt, Adrienne and beautiful Georgia (who is a Christmas miracle!) graciously hosted us and even used a day of their precious vacation time to spend time with us. We had a lovely meal with Beth and James at their favorite Peruvian restaurant/shop (I'm totally at a loss with what to do with our souvenirs. Right now they are living in my sock drawer!). We also had a great time catching up with Kami and Ryan, friends from college. It was so comforting to spend time with such wonderful friends and to be able to pick up as if no time has passed (a Christmas miracle!).

We also had a great visit with Ben's family. It's great to see all the family and spend quality time together. One of the best parts of our trip was a visit to Phipps Conservatory to see the Gardens & Glass exhibit. We spent a lovely afternoon strolling the gardens with Ben's parents and Grandma.

One of our greatest Christmas miracles arrived during our time in Pittsburgh...Keegan Joseph Donovan! Our dear friends Brian and Erin are the proud parents of a beautiful and healthy baby boy. Brian and Erin met at our wedding (he was a groomsmen, she was a bridesmaid) so we like to think we had a little something to do with Keegan's existence. Check out their amazing website (it puts our puny blog to shame) and handsome little Keegan!

After Christmas Eve service with Ben's family, we headed to Erie for the Gibson gathering. There is something magical (and miraculous!) about being home around Christmas. Suddenly I'm a little girl skipping around the house unable to sleep knowing the next day is Christmas. I love all the little traditions we have maintained, adjusted, and added over the years...everything from Cinnamon Crunch bagels for breakfast (a Christmas miracle) to watching the "kids" (Natalie and Joel) open their stockings, to our annual Christmas morning nap in the loft under the Christmas tree.

Uncle Bob (UB) and Aunt Janice (AJ)

We added some new traditions this year using Uncle Bob's Popcorn air popper (a Christmas miracle - thank you AJ!), and his amazing chili and jambalaya. UB, I hope this tradition continues for years to come!

Natalie and I also had a fabulous day with Mena at the spa (her Christmas present from us!). She was pampered to the hilt with a facial, massage and manicure while Natalie and I treated ourselves to massages (a Christmas miracle). Afterwards we had a fabulous lunch...what a great girls day out!

Sadly, as all good things do, the trip came to an end far too soon. We're fighting the January blues by trying to focus on the fun things ahead...

Christmas Pictures