Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Season's Greetings: A look back on 2008

Some of our mailing addresses were out-of-date, so if here's a copy of our Christmas letter in case yours didn't arrive!

We're writing to you with the 5th Annual Allen Christmas letter. 2008 has been another memorable year for us as we continue to enjoy this fun stage in our lives.

Our year started with the annual Frito-Lay marketing offsite in Miami. During the trip, Christine enjoyed winning the company "Rock Band" contest - full rocker outfit and all. We followed up the craziness of Miami with a relaxing trip to Puerto Vallarta where we enjoyed perfect weather and some incredible food. We loved the Westin there and although we generally prefer not to return to the same place twice, PV is definitely a place where we'll be back to at some point.

In March, we made a trip to visit Dana’s brother, Sam, in Hong Kong, where he’s been living for the past year. We were joined for this portion of the trip by Dana’s parents as well, turning the trip into a full family affair. Sam was a wonderful host, helping us to experience the energy of the city, the tailors of Kowloon, and the scenery and incredible seafood of neighboring islands. Christine & Dana then hopped over to Vietnam where we spent another 10 days, starting in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) and working our way north to Hanoi. The country was beautiful, the people friendly, and the islands of Halong Bay were breathtaking.

Back in the US, Dana found out that he was moving from Cheetos innovation to a new role - Frito-Lay's Multipack business (think small bags in bigger packages). Christine continued to work in Innovation and is currently working on the re-launch of Smartfood as a brand of smart treats for women (indulgent-tasting snacks with real nutrition). We've both enjoyed our roles this year and continue to love the people we work with at Frito-Lay.

Over the summer, we volunteered at church with their pre-marital program. We enjoyed meeting new people, helping them talk through different aspects of marriage, and also regrounding ourselves in the traits of a successful marriage.

Christine has several new hobbies this year. First, our many weddings were replaced this year with many baby showers. She is now an expert at shopping for baby gifts and planning showers if you need any advice! Second, Christine has taken her running beyond basic fitness and this year completed her first 10k, followed shortly thereafter by a 15k for good measure. Also, to celebrate her 32nd birthday, Christine recruited several friends to join her for trapeze lessons to check that off her "life list."

This year we spent Thanksgiving in Michigan with Christine's sister, Ana, who just moved to Birmingham. A highlight was taking our niece to see the Rockettes holiday show. For Christmas, we're excited to travel to Belize with Dana's family!

We wish you a memorable and blessed holiday season. Love, Christine & Dana

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back from Belize....

We're back! The trip was AMAZING. More details to come soon : )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Belize here we come!

We leave for Belize in just over 24 hours. We're really looking forward to 8 days of R&R with the Allen family!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A holiday weekend in New York City

We've been wanting to get back to NYC for a festive holiday weekend for a long time, so this past weekend we had a blast catching up with old friends in the city and doing a lot of touristy things.

Highlights include a romantic carriage ride in Central Park, meeting Jason Frank's wife Jenny (Jason was a close friend of mine in college), seeing Jerry's fashion studio (FORM) in Soho (Jerry is Dana's fraternity brother and a very successful clothing designer - check out "FORM" when you get a chance) and getting my first luxury designer clothing, listening to live music at a very cool venue with Jane, Adam, Kristie & Carol, holiday shopping at Bryant Park with Shannon & Joe (all incredible friends from Kappa or Hilton Head summers), and so much more!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Community Group Christmas Party

A fun-filled night of Ryan's special pasta recipe, a white elephant gift exchange and lots of Dance, Dance Revolution!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Such a fun Saturday!

Yesterday was such a fun day! The girls in my community group spent the morning helping Stephanie create wedding bouquets for her sister-in-law's wedding. At first it was really stressful since none of us had ANY experience, but I think they turned out great. I made the "toss" bouquet, which was a totally new concept to me (making an extra bouquet to give away to the person who catches it).

After that I went to the mall to do Christmas shopping. Normally I avoid the mall when I know it will be crowded, but there was so much fun stuff going on! Nintendo was giving out free massages, Chick-fil-A was giving out free Peppermint Chocolate milkshakes, and there was a red carpet event where I got my makeup done by a professional and a free goodie bag of hair and makeup stuff.
Later that evening we went to a holiday party at my manager's house. It was beautiful and we won this cool digital picture keychain. This time we had to match people up with their favorite holiday memories. Dana's favorite memory is his mom stashing cookie dough in the fridge for him and his brother when she made holiday cookies. Mine is the year Santa came early and surprised us on just a random day because we were spending Christmas at Disney.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The days we really love our job...

Dana and I were in training together this week and it was honestly incredible! One of our VPs taught a marketing class that she created, and I felt like I learned more in 3 days than I did during all of business school. She's so inspiring. We had a ton of fun talking through case studies on brands such as Barbie, American Girl, BMW, Axe, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, Cadillac and Playboy. Dana won a $150 gift certificate to a nice dinner as a prize for drawing the best superhero - another fun assignment : )

Yesterday we stopped by Sondra and TJ's after class and enjoyed catching up over wine since we haven't seen them in forever. Sondra just completed a marathon and is in incredible shape. Tonight we caught up with Janelle, Michael and baby Maya over wine and pecan pie. Janelle loved the stuff we had made for Maya at Lizzie Rivers! My friend Ashley is really doing great things with her business.

We have a VERY busy rest of the weekend ahead... but more on that later!