Editor’s Desk

I was working on planning the Shore Update Christmas party when the “Right/Left Game” popped into my head

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I was working on planning the Shore Update Christmas party when the “Right/Left Game” popped into my head. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, you simply gather everyone in a circle, hand each of them a wrapped gift and read a story that uses the words “right” and “left” as often as possible. Every time the storyteller says “right” or “left,” the wrapped gift is passed in that direction. When the story is complete, you open the gift left in your hands. 

Below you’ll find the story I wrote for the team. I can’t wait to share this with them as I know they will have a blast, and it will be so much fun. Their enthusiasm, commitment to our customers and care for each other is the best gift I could ask for. Thanks and Merry Christmas gang.

With a big shopping list left to fill, Santa visited every storefront in Queen Anne’s County and was rightly disappointed to see so much merchandise was left in the stores, “What can I do to right this wrong?” Santa ho-ho-ho’d.

Then a bright idea popped into his jolly head, “I know! I’ll talk to the Shore Update. Whether I get a right page or a left page, I know I can help these merchants empty what’s left in their stores.”

So Santa stopped by the Shore Update office on the right side of Del Rhodes Avenue in Queenstown to place his ad. When he entered, Kim jumped to her feet and shouted, Santa, is that you? Are you right here in front of me? How can we help you?!”

“Well Kim,” Santa said, “I need people to do what’s right and SHOP LOCAL.”

“You’re at the right place Santa, follow me,” Kim said right away. Leading Santa through the door on the left, Kim introduced Santa to the Shore Update team. Laura at the desk on the left and Erika on the right will design just the right ad for you. Pegeen on the right will make sure no social media stone is left unturned.

“Ho! Ho! Ho! I knew I was on the right track. The Shore Update team has the jolliest elves I’ve dealt with left of the North Pole. I’ll head out now knowing that I’ve left this in the right hands… so get right to work, there’s not a second left to spare.”

Kim put out an S.O.S. to the team members left, “Help! Santa and the Queen Anne’s County merchants need us right away.” Bill, Julia, Yvonne and Jessica answered the plea right quick and began contacting the merchants left on the list.

“We’re here to help get the word right out about the merchandise left in your store. We have just the right marketing plan to meet your needs.” They got right to work and made sure the word spread left and right. They called left… then they called right… “Everyone must SHOP LOCAL tonight.”

With not a second left, Caryn, Wilma and Melissa got right to work taking pictures, writing articles and finishing what was left to promote. “Santa and the merchants need us right away. We’re right here to help and happy to do what’s left.”

Santa’s newest elves were buzzing left and right making sure the marketing was done just right so there would be no merchandise left in the stores on Christmas Eve. “Shop and give local… you’ll be right happy you did,” they cheered.

Merry Christmas,

The Shore Update Team

Michael, Cheri, Kim, Allie, Laura, Pegeen, Caryn, Wilma, Erika, Julia, Bill, Yvonne, Jessica and Melissa

As for the Shore Update Christmas party… it simply could not have been better. Good food and spirits… games and laughing until our sides hurt, and the greatest group of people around. Santa was RIGHT, I got the best ones LEFT in the bunch. Merry Christmas gang!

If you’ve followed anything I’ve written over the years, you know that Hoffman + travel = mishap.

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If you’ve followed anything I’ve written over the years, you know that Hoffman + travel = mishap. Simple evening excursions to D.C. are no exception.

This past weekend, Michael and I took Samuel and a handful of Samuel’s friends to a concert in D.C. It started as a relatively calm evening with our biggest obstacle having to stop to put air in the tires and trying to hang on for an 8:30 p.m. departure time. We got to the venue right on time, the kids scurried out and Michael parked the car. He looked at me and asked, “Want to walk over to a restaurant and grab a bite?” Still in a turkey coma and staring at a clock that just turned 10 p.m., a good 30 minutes past my bed time, I yawned and tried to answer. Before I could, he yawned too and suggested a nap instead.

We reclined our seats all the way back, closed our eyes and drifted off. At about 12:30 a.m., we woke up because of the chill in the car. He turned the key. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Dropping our heads in disbelief, we could only let out a huge sigh.

“Battery’s dead. I guess I left a light on.” Expecting the kids to come out around 1 a.m., he bolted out of the car and headed to a gas station to look for help. While he was gone, I looked up towing services and tried to wave down passers-by, neither of which presented any luck. He called as I was about to give up and said he had no luck locating any help at gas stations, but remembered our auto service has road side assistance. He called them, and their ETA was 2 a.m.

With years of travel debacles under our belts, we now laugh at this kind of stuff. When he got back to the car, we found the humor in our situation and waited… and waited some more… and more. Finally at 2:30 a.m., I called our insurance carrier and was informed, “We have no such record of you in our system. Hold on please.” This was not surprising and honestly was anticipated. “I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t find any record of your call. I’m going to give you the number of the towing company we use in your area and have you call them directly.”

At this point, Michael and I are beyond exhausted. We’re also fretting about the kids getting out any minute and then having to sit in the parking lot for heaven knows how long until we can get this straightened out. I call the tow company and after 15 minutes of explanation, he locates us in his “system.” “I’ll be there in 20,” he assures me.

Thirty minutes later, we get another call, “Hey, I can’t find you. I need directions.” I’m cold. I’m frustrated. I’m tired. I can’t help him… I have no idea where we are. So Michael and I head to the street to flag down any “tow truck” we see in case it is the one looking for us.

Next thing I know, my phone rings again. “I’m here. Where are you?” We race back to our vehicle only to find a little “Yugo” type car from which a young kid jumps out with something the size of a Froot Loop box in tow. Before we can blink, our battery is charged and he is on his way.

It’s 3:30 a.m. Michael and I exchange looks of disbelief only to look up to see Samuel and his friends headed toward the car without a clue about the evening we just had. We arrived home at 5 a.m. I fell in my bed for two hours of sleep, woke up and tried to decide if I had dreamed the evening. I grabbed my phone and saw the original text message from our insurance carrier, “Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you. Help is on the way. E.T.A. 2 a.m.”

Sweet dreams, Cheri

We welcomed Jessica Kenneally to the Shore Update marketing team, and as always in our daily, deadline-driven life, things were a bit chaotic.

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We welcomed Jessica Kenneally to the Shore Update marketing team, and as always in our daily, deadline-driven life, things were a bit chaotic.

– Email wasn’t working (and this is literally our lifeline).

– Computers had developed a mind of their own.

– We were behind on pulling the GIVE LOCAL issue together.

– Christmas By the Bay event date needed to be changed from December 10 to December 9 (don’t have enough space to boo-hoo about all the details involved with this).

– Samuel was arguing with me in text about math, cleaning his room, dinner plans and anything else a typical teenager thinks of (he needs to become a lawyer).

– Mom is out of town and off the grid, so she can’t help with office “stuff.”

– Phone is ringing off the hook with Christmas By the Bay orders and vendor inquiries.

– Homeschooling weekly preparations and classes await.

– We were creating new email accounts for everyone… 8 change of addresses… and about 200 places to change them, not to mention letting all our clients know.

And then add the preparations it takes to get a new marketing rep started. I was about half prepared, not my usual self, but it was all I had to give at the moment. She took it in complete stride and with a winning attitude, “I can work with whatever you have; we can worry about the rest later,” she assured me.

There was, however, one piece to the puzzle that I could not set aside, her Google account. I created this account at home and got it working, organized and ready to go. It was the only thing I had touched that weekend that fell into place and worked as it should… I should have seen it coming. So Monday at the office, with all of the hoopla I mentioned above buzzing in the background, I sat at the main computer with her and we began.

“Ok Jessica, this is super easy. Just log into your Google account and you’ll have access to all of our forms and such,” I said as I hurriedly entered her user name and password.

WRONG PASSWORD the computer yelled at me. I must have typed it in too fast, I tried again. No luck. I called Samuel and had him open my home computer for remote login. With Jessica next to me, I easily logged into her account with the same password… worked fine. I was baffled. I played with it until I reached the point of pure frustration and then told her I’d have to work on it and get back to her.

For four days I messed with this: I “Googled” the problem… texted my computer guy… no luck. I was at my limit and had decided to just create a new Google account, I hadn’t already done this because I already shared so many documents, organized them, configured emails, etc.

On deadline day, I sat at her computer and gave it one last Hail Mary. “WRONG PASSWORD,” the computer taunted me yet again. I looked at Kim in desperation and pleaded, “Please come look at this. I’m going crazy.”

With Kim looking over my shoulder, I showed her how I could log in at home and not at the office… “What am I missing?” She looked at the screens side by side and said “What’s that extra letter on your home screen, a ‘C’?”

“OMG!” Four days of frustration boiled down to a “C.” At home, where I created the account, her email is jessicackenneally@gmail.com. At the office and in my head, it was jessicakenneally@gmail.com. Google kept me logged in at home, so I never had to retype the email and didn’t notice the extra letter. AND the reason it was telling me “WRONG PASSWORD” at the office is because someone else had the email address jessicakenneally@gmail.com (with NO “C”).

I hugged Kim so hard… professed my pure adoration for her. Then we both laughed and laughed some more. I’m still laughing when I think about this.

So why this long story for our Thanksgiving issue? Everyone’s life is full of some form of chaos… frustrations… challenges, and it is easy to let them be the focus, especially during the holidays when the chaos… frustrations… challenges are all magnified by holiday stress. When these moments are too overwhelming for you, try focusing on the positives and learn from the rest. I could still be stewing over four lost days and endless frustration, instead I’m chuckling over my stupidity and Kim’s saving the day.

Moments come and go. They are challenging and rewarding. They are good and bad. Hold onto the positive, learn from the rest… and always have a good proofreader by your side.

Welcome Jessica. Thanks Kim. Happy Thanksgiving to our readers and clients,


There are so many giving people and charitable organizations in our area, that if you’ve lived here long enough, you’ve been touched by one.

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Dear Readers,

There are so many giving people and charitable organizations in our area, that if you’ve lived here long enough, you’ve been touched by one. We interact with these people and organizations on a daily basis at the Shore Update, and are honored to do so. It is because of the kindheartedness of so many in our area that we bring the “Give Local” issue to you every fall. We hope to shine some light on these much deserving people and groups. We also ultimately hope, that during this busy time of year and during the season of giving, our readers will set aside a few minutes… a few dollars… a few supplies for those organizations in our area that help so many.

     Many of you know the story of my son Jacob, who died after battling a rare cancer. The way our friends, family and this community embraced us will forever be the reason I survived. It is the unselfishness of so many that inspired the original “Give Local” issue. In his tragedy, hope lives today.

     As Jacob battled cancer, I shared our story with Shore Update readers. A little girl named Sadie Groves, who had never met my family, heard about Jacob’s story through columns I wrote. She sent $80 she had received as a birthday gift to Jacob so “he could have some fun” when he was going through treatments. That simple little note began a friendship between two 4-year-olds that transcended time… and death.

     Sadie’s gesture started a friendship that gave great happiness to Jacob during his treatments. Equally important, that friendship developed into “Bracelets for Hope,” a cause for a young girl to help others and to give hope to families in need. Sadie will forever be a beacon of hope for me knowing that my son was an inspiration for her to help others. It is people like Sadie and the many featured in this issue who deserve our time and generosity.

     Because of Sadie, Jacob and the many, many people who embraced in us in our time of need, the Shore Update always uses its events as fund raisers. Because childhood cancer is so personal to me, I always donate what we raise at events to a local, little one battling cancer. This year, our family receiving the funds raised through Christmas by the Bay is the Russum family, whose 4-year-old Wyatt was diagnosed with Leukemia.

     Please take just a moment a reach out to these organizations. You have no idea of the difference you can make in someone’s life. I’m sure at the age of four Sadie also had no idea…. but years later, she still touches my life and now the lives of others dealing with childhood cancer. You too can touch someone’s life.


This past weekend was a dream

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This past weekend was a dream. I spent much of my weekend in my kitchen trying to comprehend the reality in front of me. My kitchen was swarming with my 6’5” 15-year-old treasure, my “adopted son” who just completed boot camp and came “home” to visit, my 19-year-old, bearded, beautiful-hearted eldest and my “adopted daughter” who had somehow turned into a glorious woman overnight.

It was the strangest weekend for me. There were moments in which I recognized a gesture… a laugh… a smile, but for the most part there was this odd sense of unfamiliarity. The kids I knew, nurtured and loved were gone… replaced with adults (maybe not quite the 15-year-old… but it’s difficult to distinguish him from the others) I hadn’t seen in months. Of course I knew who they once were, but they were growing into new selves… new selves I needed to get to know again.

As disjointed as I felt trying to see them for who they now are, I also had an overwhelming since of pride and of connection to who they are becoming. They were even more beautiful to me than they had ever been, which I didn’t think was possible. My heart was somehow full and empty at the same time.

I cannot thank these four enough for the past they allowed me to be part of… the present they shared with me… and the future I have to look forward to. I also have to thank Sandy, the mom of my “adopted daughter,” for somehow showing up on my doorstep this weekend… at just the right time.

And a special shout-out to my reader friends who are going to weather this mid-life storm with me,


Apparently you CAN teach an old dog new tricks

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Apparently you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I’m living proof. I’ve spent a lifetime at work with pen to paper… with wax to paper… with paper in binders; not anymore.

The paper used to be done almost entirely by hand, but we went digital a number of years ago. My accounting used to be done in binders on green ledger sheets. A while ago, I made the decision to transition to automation and QuickBooks, including online payments. As with anything new, it was painful to start, but my accounting life became much easier.

My most recent trick, turning our paper order forms for events into an online e-commerce store, has proven quite a challenge albeit rewarding in the end. I’m not even attempting to learn the back end of setting up e-commerce. I just have to learn the very basics of the software and plug-ins in order to bring it to our readers. Joslex Studios has done the complicated “stuff” (“stuff” is about as technical a term as I use right now), yet somehow this has still proven quite the challenge for me.

I tend to throw in the towel when I get frustrated… even if it’s only for a split second in my head. Then I make myself carry on. In fiddling with the e-commerce software, I have threatened to return to paper umpteen times. They’re idle threats because I’m stubborn as a bull (a Taurus to be exact), but it has become my coping mechanism when learning new tricks.

Then “ta-da”… the e-commerce site is up and running and looks incredibly cool! I get so excited to be able to bring new things to our customers and readers and quickly realize how awesome it is that you can still teach an old dog new tricks.

Be sure to check it out at Shoreupdate.com and order your Christmas by the Bay gift cards and DEALZ. Happy shopping local!!!


Two children. Same house. Same parenting. Opposite outcomes.

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Two children. Same house. Same parenting. Opposite outcomes. Not sure how this happens, but it does. My two boys couldn’t be any more opposite of each other. One is affectionate; one is more reserved. One loves to read; the other would rather be outside. One loves to chit chat; the other only talks when he has something to say. I will say though, in the end, they both have huge hearts.

Their differences smacked me in the face again when I began teaching Samuel how to drive. Marcus could have cared less. Samuel got his learners at exactly 15 years and 9 months and asks to drive every day. He just wants to get in the car and go and often excitedly points out, “When I finally get my license, I’m going to drive just to drive.”

Marcus allowed me to instruct him. Samuel knows it all… even after only two weeks behind the wheel. Here’s a typical conversation between the two of us when driving:

“Make sure you slow down when going into the curve ahead.”

“I know Mom.”

“We are going to turn at the second left, the first one is a one way street.”

“I know.”

Me… [another direction given]

“I know Mom.”

Me… [another direction given]


Me… [another direction given]


Even when he has a question, he still knows it all: “When we come up to this roundabout, who I am yielding to?”

I answer.

“That’s what I thought.”

“This is the acceleration lane, right?”

I answer.

Samuel… “Yea, that’s what I said.”

By the time I get out of the car, I’m totally frustrated. I hold my frustration back when we are in the car because it’s not the time or place to address it. We need to focus on learning to drive and safety. Before we got home the other day, I asked him nicely while heading to the house, “Please stop saying ‘I know’ every time I tell you something. Even if you do know what I’m saying, just reply ‘Got it.’ It’s very difficult to instruct someone that knows it all.”

His reply… “Got it!”

The kid’s a fast learner and a smart one… he knows who holds the car keys.

Until next time,


Mark Your Calendar! Shore Update Restaurant Appreciation Week

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Mark Your Calendar! Shore Update Restaurant Appreciation Week

October 31  Through November 7

We are fortunate to have so many great restaurants in our area that serve almost any kind of cuisine your mood or your tastes desire. Participating restaurants are offering special prix fixe menus in a range of prices as well as special gifts to use on return visits. We hope you take advantage of all the fabulous deals and the wonderful special meals these area restaurants are offering.

Participants’ menu offerings will be featured in the next issue of the Shore Update. In this issue, we are focusing on a specialty fall soup or stew each participant offers, and the timing couldn’t be any better with the string of chilly weather we’ve had. Visit ShoreUpdate.com to view the menus, but be prepared for your mouth to water.

Thank you for patronizing these restaurants and taking advantage of the exciting offers. These are presented to you by the Shore Update and participating restaurants. As always, we encourage everyone to Buy Local, Shop Local and EAT LOCAL.

~ Cheri Hoffman, Owner Shore Update

I know I’ve been MIA the last few weeks.

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Something to think about…

I know I’ve been MIA the last few weeks. Life has been coming at me full force and something had to give… so I sacrificed my column… my grocery shopping… my house cleaning… my bathing. There was a time in my life when I felt like Super Woman and did it all, but as “middle age” hits, there’s no “Super” in front of “Woman” anymore and that’s okay. Repeat… OKAY.

First, the term “middle age” used to make me cringe. Luckily I don’t have the energy left to cringe right now, so I readily accept middle age. I’m also happy to drop the superlative “Super” in front of my title. I think I’ll adopt Larry the Cable’s Guys mantra of “Get ‘er done…” That’s way less pressure than “Super” and in the end, the results are the same. The job is done. Ta-ta-da… it’s “Get ‘er done girl!”

Washing down a B12 with homemade sangria and the blessing that is Becky Groff and Inspired Events, the Chesapeake Bay Wine Fest has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 10th (thanks to hurricane Joaquin).

Broken computers, a defunct email and a deadline that came from no- where didn’t stop the Shore Update team from getting out last week’s issue, putting the Health Update to bed, AND planning for restaurant week WHILE recuperating from Good, Better, Best.

I’m pretty sure any of the above added to normal life would be enough, but add the fact that Jacob’s passing in September hit harder than ever this month, and it’s easy to see why I’m happy to throw out “Super” in front of my title.

Everybody should take a moment and rethink the “Super” in front of their names. We’re all taking on more than is “normal” most days and it’s okay if it’s all not perfect… or Super. Better yet, lean on someone, as I did this past month. Together we are much stronger than we are when alone.

Get ‘er done, Cheri


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1. to state or assert positively; maintain as true

2. to confirm

3. to express agreement with or commitment to; uphold; support

I always fret a little when we put together the Good, Better, Best issue. My concern is whether or not we are getting the spirit of the contest across to our readers and businesses. While there are categories that name a winner, the overall spirit of Good, Better, Best is about recognizing the businesses and the individuals in our community who contribute so much to making everyone’s lives better, happier… the best they can be.

     While in the throes of doubt and thinking about whether or not we were achieving our goal, my email chimed letting me know that my inbox was holding the tallied results. Now it was my job to enter the results and begin the design of this issue. While entering the results, I came across nominations for the “Update” as a favorite business:

     “The Update…because of all the information they provide in their paper to keep everyone informed… does so much for the community and really cares… always giving and helping local organizations… Hats off to the Update for the many charities they promote and sponsor.”

     Not expecting to see “The Update” in the tallied list, my heart swelled when I read those comments. I didn’t need to “win” a category to feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and commitment to this community. The mere fact that people took the time to write in about The Update and the fact that we helped someone was enough for me. In this moment, our purpose for the Good, Better, Best contest was affirmed.

     It was at that very moment when the spirit of the contest became clear: The Good, Better, Best contest is about taking a moment to praise the blessings in our community… whether you’ve touched 100 lives or 10… you matter. It is this reason that we don’t publish ONE favorite business owner, realtor, community organization or volunteer. When these ballots come flooding in, the best way for us to share the touching sentiments is to publish them, and that’s just what we do with this annual issue! We’re all part of making this community a better place, so we all deserve our moment in the spotlight and a moment of affirmation.

     Aside from shining a spotlight on the many people and businesses that make this community the best around, the Good, Better, Best issue also serves as a catalyst to bring the community together for a night of celebration and relaxation. Our annual party held at The Jetty is a night about just that… celebrating and relaxing. There is no better feeling for us than to see hundreds of locals fill The Jetty to mingle, relax and simply enjoy each other’s company. Again, the Good, Better, Best contest is affirmed in my head and heart.

     It’s also affirmation to see how many people save this issue or send an email to request it. So many locals use the Good, Better, Best issue as a resource for finding and selecting local businesses and services. In this busy world, if someone has taken the time to share how you’ve helped them or how great your services are, that says a great deal. Most of us, me included, have great experiences with local businesses and services, but don’t always stop to share those experiences as we’re always moving on in our fast-paced lives.

     So… the Good, Better, Best issue not only encourages us all to take that moment and share our local experiences, but it also allows others to use and benefit from them. Remember, our motto at the Shore Update is “Shop Local.” They are two simple words, but they are important and at the heart of the Good, Better, Best issue… and the Shore Update.

     A heartfelt thank you to all the business, organizations and readers that support the Shore Update. We truly appreciate you allowing us to serve you. We nominate YOU as the BEST around.

You’re the sweetest,

Cheri Hoffman