Playing Catch Up

Seriously, the smell of burning leaves, crisp air and pumpkin lattes create this chemical reaction in my brain that catapults me into a strict fall schedule of scary movies, pumpkin pie, hot cocoa, decorating, gift buying and a strong sense of family. It’s nonstop and its fun, but its also a sneaky ball of stress that hides until January 3rd. I heart this season.

We had a blast at our family reunion this summer (I fully acknowledge that it’s been too long since I last posted). But the Turf Toes Fantasy Football Draft Party really kicks off my favorite season. As usual, we had a fantastic time with all of our friends and it just seems to be getting better every year. It’s interesting to watch your friends and your get togethers change and grow every year. Of course, this party also effectively begins a four month husband coma with a cocktail of Hockey, Football, SportsCenter and having to ask every question three times before I get Chris’ attention. I like to believe it all comes back to me in rewards later in the year….

We also went to our first Appalachian football game in October. It was so much fun, although two things are regrettable – the loss to McNeese State and the amount of adult beverages I consumed at tailgate. Have some great pictures though!

Lauriann and her girls blessed us with her yearly fall trip and I enjoyed two great weekends hanging out with them. I just can’t get enough, so Chris and I are headed out to Tucson, AZ in December. But while she was in our neck of the woods, Lauriann’s friend Nikki Puckett took some amazing pictures of the three of them! Its fun to watch all of my nieces and nephews grow up. Tear……. For more of Nikki’s great photography, check her out here and here.

At this point, it’s full steam ahead into Thanksgiving and Christmas, the most heartwarming times of my year. Chris and I are so looking forward to hosting 90% of the family here in Charlotte for Thanksgiving and celebrating Christmas every which way but loose. Between the upcoming holidays and the trip to Arizona, I am sure when I post again in three months, I will have some great pictures to share 😉


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The Family That Sings “Let There Be Peace On Earth” Together…..

stays together? I have to believe this is true. Because although my cheeks were a little pink with embarrassment, my eyes did well a little thinking about how appropriate it seemed. This isn’t a “Memento” movie post, where I start at the end and work my way back to start. This was just one of the moments over the past two months that has stuck with me and seemed to fit at the beginning.

So, yes, it’s been two months and after receiving some poking and prodding, I made some time to sit and update. Chris just commented this morning about how fast this year has gone by, and I have to agree – the thought that Christmas is just 6 months away makes me want to crawl into a hole and stop time. I’m having a blast, but at some point, you want today to just last another two weeks. Since last post, Chris and I went on mini-vacations… separately. I made my way to Brooklyn, NY to see my best friend Jana and Chris made his way in the opposite direction to… guess where…. Vegas. I had a girls trip with my friends Jana and Pauline and Chris had a guy’s trip with his friends from home. I am going to venture a guess that his might have been a little more wild than mine (he DID go skydiving – be sure to ask about the video), but I had the best time exploring NY. The Museum of Natural History was amazing, and we didn’t even get through the whole thing. Hair was incredible, but my small-town-girl-in-a-big-city-ness shown through when I gasped seeing the entire cast get bare naked. I had delicious bagels, swanky dinners and my share of drinks. I even saw Rachel Ray walk toward me in Chelsea Market!! My trip was made right then 🙂

As I said, Chris went to Vegas and went skydiving, among other things. I couldn’t believe he agreed to go, and of course, he loved it! The video is priceless – so hilarious to see how crazy he felt to jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet. Clubs, pools and casinos – sounds like a guys trip to me! Ask him to fill in the details 🙂

Of course, my birthday kicked off June and I had a some great treats! My parents came to visit me and my in-laws came into town so that we could all go to dinner at Cajun Queen in Charlotte. The food was phenomenal and the company was even better. On the day of my actual birthday, our BFF neighbors Terry and Veronica offered to take Chris and I and a couple friends on a twilight ride on their boat and a casual dinner at a local lake restaurant. I had the best time hanging out with friends and I even got a night with the hubby at The Melting Pot the next night 🙂 I had a little bit of everything I loved. It was perfect! OH and… we got new countertops… YAY!!!!

It’s possible you are wondering at this point where the Peace on Earth song comes in…. well every year my whole family comes home to my parents house for the fourth of July and to reunite. This year, we planned a big, but simple affair for my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary! They renewed their vows at their local parish and during the ceremony, the whole family (all 16 of us) were invited to the front to give them our blessing, and to end the mass, we all sang Let There Be Peace On Earth. While it might sound a bit Brady Bunch-ish, it really was quite endearing and we all got a bit choked up watching mom and dad walk out hand and hand. It was a beautiful and very meaningful ceremony. We were able to baptize the two new babies as well – both of which Chris and I were Godparents of – we couldn’t be any more honored! After the ceremony, we celebrated with a big party at Millrace Farm! I made the wedding cake, and although it was a kind of sad replica of the professional one that inspired mom to request it, I was rather proud at how it turned out. If nothing else, it was made with a whole lotta love.

The rest of the trip was wonderful too. Spent alot of time with my family and extended family, loved hanging out with the kids (yes, parents, we are preparing ourselves for our own…) and had a relaxing time that I wished could never end. But alas – here we are… home and back at work. There is always next summer to look forward to.

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Vegas Baby, Vegas.

Again, I wait entirely too long to update the blog, but hey – I have a life…. one that deserves documenting here 😉

March came in like a lion and out like a lamb… busy busy with work and traveling for both Chris and I. The kids hockey team he coaches enjoyed two or three tournaments that were thoroughly enjoyable for Chris to be a part of. He loves coaching those kids and I absolutely love to watch him love it 🙂

April has been even more busy. I was able to visit my sister, Lauriann and her two adorable girls at home at mom and dad’s. She was in from Arizona and I enjoyed every second I got to spend with them. While I was there, I also got to spend some time with Lyric and Quinn, Trish’s babies – who are so precious!! I am so lucky to be an aunt to the cutest children on the planet!

Easter was spent with family and Chris and I began counting down the days until our Anniversary, AND our trip to Las Vegas! Chris’ favorite place on earth is Vegas, and I must say I am pretty fond of it myself.

After a very stressful week at work, we landed on Sunday night and enjoyed taking in everything we had missed in the year since we had been there. The lights, the sounds, the smells (smoke and all). We stayed at the Luxor, which was new for us. A novelty hotel indeed, cool to experience, but only once. Onto the next best thing next time we go.

Three amazing men bought Chris and I dinner at our favorite italian restaurant off the strip – Battista’s Hole in the Wall. We chatted with them at various times throughout dinner and as they were leaving – they said “Happy Anniversary, your dinner is on us and dessert is on the way.” I practically started crying at the realization that there are still amazingly nice people in the world and I am determined to pay it forward.

That was our first night there. And it only got better. Between running my luck on the craps tables, Phantom of the Opera, couples’ massages, Cirque De Soleil “O”, stone crab and wandering until our hearts were content, Chris and I had the most wonderful, refreshing anniversary trip ever. I am so thankful I have him to spend it with and that we enjoy each others company that much!

It’s back to reality this week, but we still have so much to look forward to. Mother’s Day will be celebrated this weekend, a wedding in two weeks, memorial day, my birthday, traveling more and on and on….

Here are some pictures from the past couple months, vegas and all. Thanks for checking it all out!

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Happy New Year!…. two months ago. Finally finding, using, forcing some time to update the blog. Turning out to be more and more like the magazine I work for – a quarterly publication.

Well despite the not-so-great Christmas holidays, January and February have been pretty nice. Busy, but nice. Between Chris’ kids hockey tournaments, his own hockey tournaments, bridal shows for work and traveling in between, this is the first weekend we have had in a month straight with nothing to do! And I am so bored!

Case and point, our Valentine’s Day was planned around the kids hockey tournament and my visit to Charleston for a bridal show. Yikes. Nothin’ like dinner at 9pm… I almost passed out in my Creme Brulee. But it was wonderful, because for the first time in a couple years, we actually were together and celebrated V-Day on the day of the holiday. Side – note, if any of you have a chance to see the Planet Earth Documentary series in HD, holy cow, do it!! It is so amazing…

Spring brings a new rush of plans and travel – including a visit from the yet unseen new niece! Lauriann, Taylor and Reagan will be making the trip to GA to hang out and say hello! Yay! I can’t wait to meet the bundle of cheeks and diapers. I will be sure to post pictures 🙂

I have also been busy planning a ceremony and party with my family for my parents 40th wedding anniversary. 40 years ago my parents were married in a locked church with 2 witnesses and no reception to follow. This year we wanted to give them a true vow renewal ceremony and a true celebration of their love. Cotter style. So now that we have the most perfect reception site – McGuire’s Millrace Farm – we hope that everyone can join us for an amazing summer party!

I, Anne Marie Ashley, promise to keep up with this blog as best I can…. Talk to you soon!



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I know right…

and you thought we were finally on track to staying relevant. Nope… sorry. You think blogging is this easy, quick, cool thing you can do while you, I don’t know…. do laundry or color your hair. And it is. For most people. I swear every day, I glance at the WordPress bookmark in our Ashley faves drop down and then look away quickly in shame. As if it just gave me a dirty look. “You haven’t even opened my page in three weeks, Anne Marie”. I know, I am sorry blog. I am just so wrapped up in myself.

Anyway, enough explaining – or not explaining. It’s been a busy three months. So I will just give you the good parts!

Homecoming was awesome – more of the same flashbacks, but this time in the rejects tailgating parking lot, since we waited so long to get out there on Saturday. Great game viewed from the lawn and a good time with the friends.

Halloween was more of the usual – Chris, Me, take-out chinese and a bowl FILLED with candy. Every year the crowd of kids gets larger and larger in our neighborhood. Did you know that chocolate Gold Coins are the most coveted candy on Halloween? I know, neither did we. We just happened to have some from chris’ work and it was like every kid that came up was like “NO WAY!! You have Gold Coins?!” (i’ll take a handful of thirty – thank you.) Later a friend told me that there were some gold coins being sold in the US that had been poisoned. Awesome. Trick or Treat!

Thanksgiving was a blast again this year. Although sadly missing a few family members with then bulging tummies, Sean, Mimi, the kids, my parents and us had a great time at our house again! We broke out the puzzle for the first time in a long time – Sean, my mom and Chris had it finished by the last night they were there. Saw Bolt with the kids… in 3D. Again, awesome. Black Friday shopping – not as bad as I envisioned. Great time with Mimi and I actually think this was the earliest I had my shopping done since – ever. Can’t wait until next year when we will have a new little one running around.

Which brings me to the last, and perhaps the best highlight. I am now the proud aunt of SIX, count them, SIX children. Trish and Lauriann both blessed us with two adorable babies within a week of each other! Quinn McEatchern Hoff was born December 3rd at 9:36PM (Lauriann’s Bday, I might add). I was there… I saw the whole thing. And despite my visible green pallor, it really was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. Thanks to my sister for letting me be a part of it. Reagan Lee Jones was born December 8th at 5:10PM. Destined for a dramatic existence, she chose to come out the theatrical way…. “Scalpel. Tell me when she’s under.” That’s right. C-section. Ouch. Baby and Mommy are doing wonderfully though and I can’t wait to see the little ball of flesh in person very soon! Both babies managed to look just like their older siblings and just as cute. I will be loving them to pieces.

Now it’s just waiting till Christmas. Sure to be filled with friends and family and fun. Just the way it should be. OH and presents… lots of presents.
Love to all!!



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Name in Bright Lights & Other Adventures of the Ashleys


Somehow August (and most of September) got away from me. It’s amazing to me how quickly time evolves around you as if you don’t even matter; as if you are in the way of time getting to it’s ultimate destination – which has yet to be determined.  When you are small you can practically hear the seconds tick by, as if they are stomping by you to make sure you acknowledge them. Thats when those seconds are in the way of you getting to your ultimate destination… 16….21….25…whatever. Sometimes its great – you just want to get to the other side. Other times I only dread the ‘prepare for ludicrous speed’ time that will inevitably become my life. 

I digress. The point is… August and September blew past me with little but a wave in my general direction. We had our third annual Turf Toes Fantasy Football draft party on August 23rd. And with every year, we see it outdo the last.  I found myself talking to my friends about the day we will begin renting moon walks and bouncy tents for our kids as we swig adult beverages and sneak away to play beer pong in the garage. The funny part is that it was a mixed bag of emotions – speaking about that day in tones of eagerness and slight dread. All I know is that all my friends, and Chris and I included, hope to keep this tradition alive for years and years to come. It is our favorite occasion of the year….almost. 

Following the draft, I tried to help close the fall issue of Weddings Unveiled with some editing and layout time at the boss’ house. It was fun to see the issue come together before print and know that it will be the first issue with my name in it. Why does your name in print seem to be such a bigger name than you own? It’s like when it’s typed up and glossed over, it becomes a totally different name. If anyone wants a framed, signed copy, just let me know 😉

We celebrated dad’s birthday the first of September at their house. It was nice to see dad get another year older and wiser – all the while, never letting on that he is a day over 60. I must ask him someday his secret to looking so young. Also sent a fun gift to Miss Emily for her birthday as well… I hear she wore her “Little Miss Birthday” shirt to dinner. That had to have gotten her at least a free dessert! 

We will be making the trip to Boone again this year for Appalachian’s homecoming next weekend. Only this year, we can’t get anything but lawn seats. My how times change… be looking for an update soon after. It’s been a fun close to summer, and an interesting one at that. I believe it can only get better, and faster, from here.


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Baby Fever

Everyone thinks baby fever is something you catch the first time you see thimble-sized booties or button bottom jammys. No, No my friends… catch it when everyone around you becomes pregnant quicker than you can say diaper genie. Pretty soon every woman you see looks like they may or may not be in their 4th month. Every time you pass the toddler section of Target, you instinctively coordinate an outfit for your unborn child, and then blushing…quickly put it back. Suddenly, every name you hear in the course of a day is attached to your surname – testing the way it rolls off the tongue. “Ishmael? nah…” Whew! 

So, I’m just going to say it. This blog is specifically to announce that Chris and I are expecting… nieces and nephews!!!  That’s right, Trish and Lauriann seemed to have baby fever, not I.  But don’t lie, I got you. On Monday, they both discovered the sexes of their little ones and thanks to Trish our solo nephew will no longer be the only boy. Thanks to Lauriann, her daughter will have a sister to share secrets with. The world just got a little more exciting…..


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