Editor’s Desk

A New Year… An Old Story

Published December 27, 2017

Nothing is ever “by the books” in the Hoffman household. If you read last week’s Cheri 411, you know that for the first time in 16 years, Samuel did not snoop for Christmas gifts from me. He was playing the snooping game with his best friend Sara. I should have known then that I wouldn’t get off that easily.

As I wrote last week, I upgraded Samuel’s iPhone to the new iPhoneX that just came out. The Verizon store accidentally called him to tell him the phone was in and ready to be picked up way before Christmas. The surprise was ruined… but the story doesn’t end there.

Part of the iPhone gift was that we would exchange phones; I would get his old phone, replacing mine which is terribly cracked and annoyingly glitchy. Well…the week before Christmas, I was in a heightened state of frustration with my phone and just couldn’t take it any longer. I had a plan and yelled for Samuel to come down to the office.

“Samuel… you know you’re getting the new iPhoneX for Christmas and mine is getting worse and worse. Why don’t you just take the gift now, give me your old phone and then we’ll both be happy?”

He blankly stared at me, a key indicator that something was awry. Under normal circumstances, he would have been under the Christmas tree, ripping the paper off the gift before I could have said “Merry Christmas.” I wouldn’t even have to find it for him since he had already snooped and knew which box was his.

Instead, he blurted out, “Mom, I’m not sure that will work. Your backup might be the problem, which would just transfer to my old phone and leave you with your same problems.” Preoccupied with my annoying phone issues, I didn’t immediately pick up on what was really going on. I tried to convince him it was worth a try, coming at him from every angle until he finally reached into his pocket and set the new iPhoneX on my desk and simply said, “Let me explain.”

I was dumbfounded and speechless, which gave him plenty of opportunity to explain himself… and so he did. He proceeded to tell me he had opened the gift-phone the previous night, “formatted” it and was thoroughly enjoying his new Christmas gift. He then had taken his old phone, put it in the new box and rewrapped it to place it back under the tree, thinking to play a Christmas joke on ME.

You see, every year, I royally mess up some Christmas gift and then get teased about it until the next Christmas when I mess up again. He intended to open the rewrapped gift Christmas morning and then “loudly exclaim” that I had bought the wrong phone for him. I would have been devastated and disappointed for creating such a large mess up. He then would jubilantly announce the joke, and we would have yet one more story to add to the battle of Christmas surprises.

In the end, we weren’t sure who had won this round of Christmas spying. He had masterminded the ultimate holiday prank, but I unknowingly foiled it. One thing we were certain about, we were totally enjoying our annual Christmas spy-game and creating new memories and moments to last a lifetime.

Here’s to 2018… and to all of you, our readers,… hoping that your year is full of wonderful memories and moments that last a lifetime.

Until next time,
Cheri Hoffman

A Christmas Tale

Published December 21, 2017

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a column. It’s not for lack of topics as my two beautiful boys keep me on my toes. I keep promising myself that I will get back in the groove of weekly (or at least monthly columns)… not only to preserve the crazy moments with my boys, but because I get so much feedback from readers who enjoy them.

So this week, I’m writing another Hoffman Christmas story. If any of you kept up with these articles over the years, you know that Samuel and I battled it out each Christmas to see if he could find his gifts before Christmas and how clever I could be at hiding them. He was this little ball of mischief from the time he could move, rolling to the Christmas tree and pulling bows off packages before he could even walk. He’s been a sneaky elf his entire life, and the Samuel stories quickly turned into one of our fondest Christmas memories and traditions.

This year was completely different. His best friend Sara became the object of his Christmas mischief. The two of them were absolutely adorable together… stealing each other’s phones for clues, rummaging through cars for hidden gifts, torturous tickle fights for confessions. Every time she came to the house, I hugged her and whispered, “I’m so glad he’s your problem now.” We three joked about the new tradition, and I happily left gifts on closet shelves and wasn’t worried.

Then one day I hear “MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM from the top of stairway.” This wasn’t his usual bellow; I knew something was up. My radar kicked in and instead of yelling back, I peeked around the corner so I could see his face and learn what was behind the shrill. [If you also remember, Samuel’s face gives him away every time. I needed to see that face, not just hear what he had to say.]

He was beat red and grinning ear-to-ear. I knew as sure as Santa lives at the North Pole that my little mischievous elf was back. He started laughing so hard tears were streaming down his face. He could only muster enough breath to spit out, “I don’t even have to try!”

Samuel held his iPhone to the sky like Simba in The Lion King as he proudly displayed to the onlookers below and hit “Play” on his voicemail, “Hi. This is Marcus with Verizon. I’m calling to let you know your new iPhone X has arrived and is ready for pick up. Please call us at your earliest convenience to pick it up.” He was laughing and in hysterics. I was dumbfounded… Verizon knew it was a gift… they had a note on the account to call me… his number wasn’t associated with any of it… that kid had out-smarted me again without even trying.

Also of note in this story… the phone call came from an employee named “Marcus,” which also happens to be the name of Samuel’s big brother. It’s not a common name, so adding that to the story just makes it all the richer.

Did this upset me? Was Christmas ruined? Absolutely not! In fact, it was just the opposite. Over the years, Samuel probably can’t name two or three gifts he’s received… but he can recount every holiday season that he tried to outsmart me in our Christmas game (and often did). The real meaning of the holidays is the memories we make with each other. Our gifts come and go… and are forgotten… but our memories live on.

I’d like to take this moment on behalf of myself and the wonderful gang that bring

The Shore Update to you every week to wish you all a holiday full of wonderful memories.

Until next time (hoping it won’t be so long),
Cheri Hoffman

Centreville Resident Dee Masters Shares Her Inspirational Journey

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I was so honored when my friend Dee Masters said we could share her blog about her journey through breast cancer with our Health Update readers. From diagnosis to almost two years post surgery and still cancer free, Dee has handled the cards dealt to her and her family with such grace and inspiration. Her positive attitude and desire to use her diagnosis to help others never ceases to amaze me.

Let’s face it, we all probably know someone who has breast cancer… whether it’s a family member, friend or neighbor. I believe Dee’s honesty and openness will be a gift to our readers… a gift they can use to face breast cancer however it touches their lives.

Dee shows us that attitude and faith are the best weapons we can have when facing such a huge struggle. I know you too will be inspired after reading her story. Whether you use this inspiration to face your own struggle or use it to help someone else, remember to stay positive and keep the faith.

Here’s to your health, Cheri Hoffman, Editor

2016 Golden Anchor Winners Readers’ Choice Awards

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2016 Golden Anchor Winners Readers’ Choice Awards

A pirate theme was a no brainer for this year’s Good, Better, Best contest. When thinking about this year’s theme, I immediately went to what treasures our locals are… residents, business owners, volunteers and community groups. All of these people work and live together to make our area the gem that it is. Treasure + gem quickly led me to pirate; plus a pirate-themed issue and party would be a blast to plan and if you know me, you know I’m in my glory planning a party.

This issue is all about celebrating the best of our community with a focus on local businesses, organizations and volunteers. The thing is these very people are also the ones who live and play in our community. This interwoven lifestyle and deep-seated care for where we live is what makes this community great… it’s what makes us one.

Stop and think for a minute about someone you’ve run into at the grocery store, on a bike trail or at a local restaurant. I bet most of them can be traced back to being involved in our community in one way or another.

For instance, I noticed Tricia Cammerzell, who works at the Kent School, was in charge of the big invitational for Samuel’s swim team. She is devoting countless hours to this large, local organization to help our youth.

On another day, I was unloading for Shore Kids Connection when Phil Dumenil passed by me. He stopped to ask for help getting the word out about the Kent Island Athletic Boosters fundraiser. He has a passion for helping our community and acts on it.

During my daily press release sort, I came across one from Compass Regional Hospice sharing the news that Zeke Warner, an owner of J.C. Warner Co., was now on their board. These same press releases are filled with local businesses that sponsor and give for events. One recent release for Claws for a Cause was supported by such local businesses as DiDonato Property Management, Queenstown Bank, Tri Gas & Oil Co., Inc., J.C. Warner Co., Bay Porches, Inc., and KRM Construction.

If that doesn’t convince you of our active, caring community, take a look at our calendar pages. Ninety-nine percent of the events you see are local fundraisers or community outreach events. And guess what? Ninety-nine percent of them happen because of the outstanding volunteer community we have in our area.

So what’s all this mean? It’s just a gentle nudge (okay, maybe it’s a little more than gentle… it’s an in-your-face, biggest issue of the year followed by the biggest party of the year nudge) to stop and appreciate the businesses, organizations and volunteers who make up our wonderful community.

Land ho! Which translates to “Gotta run! The Jetty and their awesome staff are in sight and ‘me party is waiting!”

My sincere thanks, Cheri
Owner, Shore Update

What is it with the Hoffmans and traveling?

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What is it with the Hoffmans and traveling? Our curse used to follow us only when we left the state of Maryland. Or, let me clarify, it’s not really a curse… just seems something “unexpected” happens every time we go somewhere. I’ve written about our many travel mishaps, and that “something unexpected” always ends up making a travel memory. These mishaps used to rear their ugly heads on big adventures… seems now they follow us anytime and everywhere.

Samuel had a concert scheduled right after the big snow storm. We watched the web site diligently for updates. Other concerts at this venue were cancelled and postponed… communication seemed to be at an all time high. Wanting to get there early so he could stand in line for a good position, we packed up and grabbed the keys at 3 in the afternoon (it was an 8 o’clock concert). “Check the web site,” I bellowed from upstairs, “Let’s just make sure before we leave.” All was good, concert was a go.

We left, picked up his friend and spent two hours in the car. We arrived at the venue after passing what seemed like a million “CAUTION: BLACK ICE” signs and another million turnarounds on streets that didn’t seem safe to pass. No red flags were waving… the city was bustling and the venue had lights on and a huge poster for the concert in the window.

Samuel and his friend were the first to arrive, which meant the best seats possible, or so we thought. I dropped them off and headed 20 minutes out of the city to do some shopping (really just wasting time) and was reassured by the 7-Eleven next door to the concert that they could go inside to warm up if needed.

Have I mentioned how I hate city driving? Whenever I use the word “hate,” Mike always says that’s a “mighty strong word.” WHATEVER! I hate city driving.

I wasted an hour or so browsing. I had nothing left to do and decided just to head back, find a place to park and fumble through some paperwork I had brought. It was 7:30 and the doors were about to open for the concert. Feeling better now that I thought they were about to go inside, I grabbed my phone to text him. Just as I entered my code to unlock it, Samuel called. My heart sank, he never calls… only texts.

“Hello,” I said very tentatively. “Um, Mom. We just found out the concert was canceled.” This wasn’t completely resonating with me… “How? Are other people waiting? What?”

So they found out on Twitter that the concert was canceled. A line of ticket holders was right behind them. The lights of the venue were still on… poster still hanging… no employee showed to tell any of these people waiting since 5pm that the concert was canceled because of the roads.

Frustrated to no end, having wasted an entire FIVE HOURS in the car… in the CITY, I headed back to pick them up. All I kept thinking was, “Now I’m going to have to do this again when they reschedule the concert… why? … why? … why? I had paid my dues.” Then the two got in the car… all smiles. They were having the best time ever.

My blood pressure finally settled, and I remembered the Hoffman travel curse and what it was really all about it… making memories. These two would talk forever about the concert mishap and the great time they had. I grinned… turned up the radio a bit… and smiled to have shared in this memory with my beautiful teen.

Until the next mishap,


As Mike and I shoveled through 3-1/2 ft. snow drifts in our driveway, my head traveled to other places

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As Mike and I shoveled through 3-1/2 ft. snow drifts in our driveway, my head traveled to other places. No, not warm, tropical locales to help me forget the pain in my back, but rather to marketing opportunities. As I tried to forget the throbbing that had taken over my back and the thought that we still had to clear the driveway at the office, I thought, “People market all wrong during a snow storm.” As we shoveled our double-wide driveway that had totally engulfed my sedan with snow drifts, I thought about the missed opportunities of businesses during a blizzard.

Sure, we all need shovels and salt, but why does the advertising stop there? As we shoveled, I thought to myself, why aren’t these items presented front and center next to the snow shovels:



-Sleep aids

I’d grab all four of those when throwing a new snow shovel in my cart. After four hours of shoveling, the throbbing in my back was screaming for a painkiller and my tired spirit was screaming for me to wash it down with a glass of wine. As I tried to type this column at the computer after soaking through a down coat and three layers with sweat, the tingling and twitching in my hands told me I’d need help sleeping. Luckily my blizzard preparations included all of the items above, but I had to travel all over Centreville to get them. Wouldn’t it have been nice to walk by the shovel display and find all of these items right with it?

I even have the slogan for the display… “Blizzard’s coming! Shoveling will consume four hours of your weekend… but what will you need to get through the rest?! Look no further, we have it here… painkillers, wine and sleep aids! Grab them all right here!”

Well, I’ll leave you with that thought as I have to go… my back is throbbing. Painkillers and wine are calling my name.

Shop local,


I don’t want to name which son I’m writing about in this column because he would probably kill me.

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I don’t want to name which son I’m writing about in this column because he would probably kill me. Or, at least cop a mega teen-aged attitude and make my life hell for a while because I shared this story. So, he who touched my heart, as he so often does, will be left unnamed.

We were exchanging Christmas gifts when, with a huge grin, “he” handed me a box. I carefully opened his hand-wrapped gift, taking as much delight in the carefully wrapped gift as what might be inside, to find a box of handmade certificates. As I shuffled through the cards, I found certificates for hugs, chores “without attitude,” and “Momplements” (a “Momplement,” as he described to me, is a compliment for me just from him).

The obvious specialness of this gift was the thought and time “he” put into it, and, of course, its homemade nature. What really touched me though was what was on the certificates. As “he” hits the teenage years full force, the attitude has picked up and the affection towards me has slowed down. This is normal of most teens, but “he” has always been my buddy, the one who would hang with me no matter what we were doing.

We’ve had conversations about this change and I get that it’s what “he” needs to do to grow up… ultimately coming back to me. What touched me, though, was that “he” heard how I missed that part of our relationship… and made certificates for things I really wanted from him… things I missed and needed: affection and closeness.

I’ve used a couple of the certificates, but most of them sit in my desk drawer. I look through them almost daily, savoring the heart put into making them for me and admiring the beautiful soul that “he” is. I’m sure when we get into the throes of a teenage moment, I’ll need to whip out a certificate. But I have gotten permission from him to keep all the used cards, as long as I write “VOID” on them once used.

Until next time, Cheri

As I contemplate what to write about this week, my mind is preoccupied with the fact that my baby turns 16 tomorrow…. my 6’5” baby

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As I contemplate what to write about this week, my mind is preoccupied with the fact that my baby turns 16 tomorrow…. my 6’5” baby. My Samuel has set his own path from day one; he’s always known what he wants and doesn’t stop until he gets it.

It started with him being due on the millennium and deciding to come five days later at 10 lbs. 12 oz. From that moment on, a smile rarely left his face and a determination rarely left his soul. His charming disposition and the “Who? Me?” look is always at the center of his determination…. and they serve him well.

This past weekend, he was cleaning out his room of his own volition, which immediately alerted me that something different was going on. My foyer was stacked high with all these “things” he was throwing away. It seemed like 16 years was headed for the dump. As I watched, I understood since I went through the same thing with Marcus. Getting rid of this “stuff ” was more than cleaning his room… it was his way of moving on to the next phase. Every so often while purging himself of his younger life, he’d stop me and say, “Mom, do you want to keep this… you know… for posterity?” I, of course, didn’t miss a beat, “YES, I want that!” His face would light up as though by keeping the stuff, I was allowing him to hang on to his youth a little longer.

I came down to my office to find a little, plastic Winnie the Pooh on my desk. I’ve always called him my Pooh Bear and bought him little sentiments over the years to acknowledge this connection. Seeing this little Pooh looking at me, my heart broke for the loss of “my little Samuel” and filled with pride at the same time.

As I typed emails, he walked by and unprovoked assured me, “Mom I set Pooh there to watch over you. I just need to get rid of some of this stuff in my room.” I chuckled, trying to lighten the situation, asked him if he’d find a big enough box to put me in when he was done with me. He laughed. The twinkle in his eyes told me were both speaking the same unspoken language.

Now I visit his room and marvel at the new layout and design. He eagerly shows me around. As I leave and head back to my room with a mix of sadness and joy, I notice a little yellowish thing on my pillow… it’s a stuffed Pooh that he left for me.

Happy 16th my Samuel, Mom

As we head into the New Year, we at the Shore Update want to wish everyone a bright, healthy and happy 2016

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As we head into the New Year, we at the Shore Update want to wish everyone a bright, healthy and happy 2016. I’d also like to take a moment to reflect on a very special part of 2015. We are all about our community, our readers and the businesses we work so closely with on a daily basis. We have really spent the last year putting our hearts and souls into our “SHOP LOCAL” mantra. Those two little words are the basis of a strong community. By shopping local, we support our local businesses that in turn support our community.

Local business owners who…
Sponsor our youth sports’ teams, emergency services, recreation activities… Hold fundraisers for so many of our wonderful community organizations… Donate time and merchandise to local charities…
Employ local residents who in turn give so much back…
Have open doors and hearts as they too live in the community they work in…

Shopping local does more than keep money local. It supports the very infrastructure that make so many of us proud to call this place home. It gives us a vested interest in our community.

Shopping local is always in the forefront of our minds at the Shore Update. I understand the value of shopping local and practice what we preach every chance I get. This past Christmas, I, yet again, was beyond touched by a shop local experience.

I have such a hard time buying gifts for my teenage boys, yet alone gifts that will surprise and excite them. Michael and I decided to upgrade their iPhones for Christmas, but because of our wireless plan and the true desire to surprise our teens, we had to wait until the very last minute to pull off our mission.

I stopped in at Wireless Kinect in Kent Towne Market right before Christmas to drop off a check from Christmas by the Bay. They were super busy, and I hadn’t planned on meeting the new owner, yet alone pulling off what felt like an impossible Christmas miracle. Tu-sean came out from the back, and immediately I could tell how genuinely friendly he was. We chit-chatted for a second and before I knew it, he offered to help with the phones. I left there with a big smile and yet one more reassurance as to why shopping local truly is incredible.

Then Michael went in Christmas Eve to pick up the phones. Tu-sean said, “Please email/call me Christmas day when the boys open them. I’ll activate them from my laptop at home.” When Michael told me that and showed me the gift he threw in for their new phones, I was just amazed, “Christmas Day, really??!!”

Then Christmas Day, he responded almost instantly to my email that our mission was complete… two ecstatic teens. In trying to activate them, there was a hurdle that he figured out how to temporarily work around, “I can deal with it afterwards. I want you to give the phones to them as a gift so go ahead and switch sim cards around for now,” Tu-sean wrote.

There is truly nowhere else you could find service and care like that… that is the essence of shopping local: Business owners who care and go above and beyond.

So, if you have no other resolution as the New Year approaches, please be sure to make an effort to shop local in 2016.

Here’s to 2016, Cheri

Samuel, the snooper in the family, assured me this holiday season that he wasn’t interested in snooping anymore.

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Samuel, the snooper in the family, assured me this holiday season that he wasn’t interested in snooping anymore. “I’m almost 16 now… sheesh Mom! I’m not going to poke holes in wrapped gifts, open hidden boxes or untape package corners.” Unfortunately, he hasn’t stopped snooping… he’s just modified his definition of the word.

The truth came out one afternoon when I tossed a wrapped package under the tree. He quickly grabbed it and began shaking it. “What are you doing?” I squealed, “I thought you weren’t snooping anymore.”

With a roll of the eyes, he set me straight, or so he thought, “Mom, this isn’t snooping. When someone hands you a gift, don’t you feel and shake it to try to figure out what’s inside? That’s not snooping, just curiosity.”

“Back the gavel up,” I demanded. “What you are saying might be true if someone HANDS YOU the gift so that you can open it. I DID NOT HAND THAT GIFT TO YOU, NOR DO YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO OPEN IT. I rest my case.”

He gently set the gift down, glanced at me as he walked by and said, “It’s okay Mom, I don’t know what’s in that one… but the small one hanging out of the stocking… wellllll.” I didn’t know what to say. As I gathered my words, I heard a roaring laugh from Michael in the other room and then Samuel bounding up the stairs.

I went in to see what was so funny. Michael, still laughing, repeated what the snooper said as he headed upstairs, “Dad, I just love getting in her head.”

Game on.

So Samuel and I are at it again… trying to outplay each other in the perennial snooping game. He’s won a few, but I think I have as well… only Christmas morning will tell. I guess this is our new tradition, and I’m happy to say I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Hope you and yours enjoy your holiday traditions, old and new. Merry Christmas everyone!