In what I hope was only the first year of the makings of a tradition, we did something new at Hood family Christmas this year. After dinner one night, we all sat in a circle in the family room and took turns sharing our highlights from the past year. I liked it so much I lifted it and suggested we do it again a few days later at Martin family Christmas, too. It was really nice to hear the headlines of the year as we sat together as a family. Trips taken. Graduations. New jobs. Retirements.

Looking back on a year well-lived is such a healthy way to kick off a new calendar. So without further ado, and in no particular order, I am excited to share with you my Top 12 Memories/Headlines/Events of 2012 — enjoy!

(These are just the headlines — if you missed these stories the first time around, feel free to click through the links for more photos, video and detail.)

1. Colt! Oh, this kid. He’ll probably top my list every day until I die. This year was a big one. He turned four, started the transition from obsessed-with-firemen to obsessed-with-worker-bees, and gracefully took the step from crib to big boy bed when my Dad came to visit in June. He is spunky, funny, soft-hearted, imaginative, and stubborn. And he’s #1 on the list, this year and always. (Video of Colt’s 4th year is here. I watch these things over and over and over.)

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2. The big 3-0. In October, my (secretly) sweet husband planned the perfect surprise party for my 30th birthday. I was 100% surprised and 100% overwhelmed with fun, loving, genuine friends on my big milestone. I was surrounded by my favorite people and 30 was officially one of my most favorite birthdays.


3. My first marathon. (And my second marathon!) Running took hold back in 2011, but 2012 was the year I went all the way. I officially became a marathoner in April, right here in Fayetteville (in the pouring rain…). Then I decided to take the ridiculousness one step further with Marathon #2 two weeks later in Oklahoma City. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend two marathons in 15 days, it was an incredible challenge and an incredible experience — and I’m more hooked on running than ever.

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4. The Foundation. 2012 was a definite year of growth for The 1LT Tom Martin Memorial Foundation. As we approached the 5 year anniversary of Tom’s death this past October, we created Project Keeping TIME — a word-of-mouth campaign attempting to spread Tom’s “NEVER QUIT” attitude further than ever before.  Over 200 of these shirts were printed and shipped all over the world — and the stories and photos coming back to us – they’ve been priceless. This photo was included in an article I wrote about the Foundation for a local magazine back in September.


5. My first triathlon. Yes, marathons AND triathlons. I know! After marathoning in the spring, I planned to stay “ready for a half marathon” all summer, but the heat really zapped my motivation to run much distance. So I decided to learn to swim, get comfortable on my bike, and try a triathlon or two. It was the perfect way to stay active during the summer and I’m betting it becomes my go-to summer training for years to come.

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6. The big 8-0. Typically, the Hoods only all get together once a year – at Christmas. But this year, in May, we all met up in Arkadelphia to celebrate two very special people. Within a week of each other, Ninny and Pop both celebrated 80th birthdays — and we were thrilled to be there. We spent time listening to stories about their college and early married years, and more than a few stories about their now-grown kiddos. Happy birthday, indeed.

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7. A visit from Mawmaw and Pawpaw. In conjunction with Foundation activities in October, my parents were in Arkansas visiting and were able to spend several days in Fayetteville with their favorite little guy. They picked pumpkinstoured Home Depot, mastered the silly seat, and just loved being together. (Spoiler Alert: These two are now both officially retired. We might be seeing a lot more of them!)

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8. Hotlanta. I played the lottery and got lucky with an entry into the biggest race around — the Peachtree Road Race 10k in Atlanta. So we made a mini-vacation out of it — staying with Paige and Lynn and hitting Atlanta highlights like the Aquarium. We had a ball — and didn’t melt in the July Atlanta sun — and could easily be convinced to go back!

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9. Summer nonsense. This summer we really maxed out our weekends. We bought cucumber plants at the Farmers’ Market, planted them and tried our best to nurture them through the blazing hot summer. And we spent nearly every weekend at Luke and Jennifer’s pool — making ourselves at home and trying to get out of there each afternoon without letting Jennifer tempt this kid with Rice Krispies Treats! I’m so proud that we’ve maintained a balance of work hard, play hard.

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10. The big boy bike. It still has training wheels (for now!) but Colt is pretty proud of his shiny red bike. It is the perfect way to work out some energy when we get home from school every day and was a seriously necessary upgrade from the tricycle.

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11. The Grand Canyon Hike. Our third annual unplugged trip to the wilderness. And oh my goodness the Grand Canyon is unbelievable. We did the classic rim-to-rim, 4 day hike in September and loved every minute of it. The scenery was incredible, the people were fun, and the brain break was just what we were looking for.

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12. Colt’s first football game. It was only a matter of time before we made him official, but this past September we took advantage of the perfect circumstances to officially introduce this boy to his Hogs. We walked the sidelines before the game and said hello to Tusk – it was a perfect first game for him. I’m certain it was the first of many.

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It nearly goes without saying that we thoroughly enjoyed 2012. We laughed a lot, traveled a little, spent time with family, and found new adventure. We are grateful for this year together, and looking forward to 2013 with a great, big smile.

Care to relive 2011? 2010? 2008? 2007? 2006? Me, too.


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