Get ready…

…now I’m going to frantically try to recap the last month of school and both months of vacation! Get ready for an onslaught of photos, videos, and me trying to remember what the heck had us so very busy that I couldn’t even scribble down a few blog posts.

So, here’s the girls’ end-of-year piano recital. We are definitely making progress if you watch the one from last year, and they have far surpassed my piano pecking. I think they still both like taking lessons…I really like sitting and listening to the lessons, so we’ll keep it up even though Em is going to stick with viola for next year’s music elective in school, too.



em piano from carrie voris on Vimeo.

addie piano from carrie voris on Vimeo.


We are still here. Just sort of “floundering” a little. I can’t believe how much I owe you all…I don’t even know where to begin with the updates. But I promise over the long weekend I will catch you all up to speed and explain why we have been pretty much non-existent around these parts.

I just had to post this one photo I just downloaded off the camera. I love it so.


Best volleyball day ever – last week at Regionals. Em had some serious playing time, serves, scored points, 3-for-3 on wins. Excitement with a capital E…and you can see it on her and Coach Laura’s faces.



Double Digits.

Dear Emma Gracie Girl -

You have made it to double digits!  I can’t believe that it has been an entire decade since you made me a Mom for the first time. There is something so very special about being a first, you know. Some days I’m sure you will be grumbly about how we still have our parenting “training wheels” on when it comes to you. And yes, your sister will get to do things at a much earlier age than you did, but think about everything you get to do first.

While I was making your birthday movie over the past few days, I re-lived many of your firsts. Your first day home. Your first bath. Your first tooth. Your first steps. Your first day at school. The list just goes on and on. And today is your first day of a new decade, double digits.

I can’t wait to see what new firsts are around the bend for you. Your first day of middle school. Your first time driving. Your first time to leave the nest. (I didn’t say I’ll be happy about all of them!) I know you will handle all of these and more with bravery, grace and determination. And I realize too, how very blessed we have been to be given you as our first little girl.

10 years of Emma Grace from carrie voris on Vimeo.

Happy 10th Birthday, my sweet girl. Here is to many more firsts.
All my love,


So I’m kinda working backward on all the news that is fit to print…er…type around Chaos here. We covered Halloween and I’m working on a Camporee recap, but I just need to make sure the first foray into braces gets put down onto paper…screen.

So, most of you have seen the new hardware in Em’s mouth in person and some of you have just seen this snapshot, taken five minutes after Dr. Sui finished installing her brackets.

Okay, now I know this is weird, but check out her teeth there…and then look at them here…just a week later.


Can you see the difference?! It is INSANE how quickly her teeth have moved. She told us occasionally that her teeth hurt a little bit, but I wasn’t really taking her that seriously. The Sunday after she got them on, we had just returned from Camporee and she was lying on my lap, she said, “I think my teeth have already moved, Mama.”

“BABY, you’ve had your braces on for two days…I doubt…OH MY GOODNESS!” as I’m peering into her mouth, “Your teeth have moved!”

It has been a learning experience for all of us. She is REALLY dedicated to brushing and flossing and is diligent about her list of what she can and can’t eat. Of course…it hasn’t even been two weeks yet. So, we’ll just have to see.

Crafty Tuesday ~ The Rest of the HP Story

Okay. So we had a lot of last minute craftiness going on last week. And when I say “last minute,” I mean we were literally crafting up to the very last minute before kids starting arriving for Em’s party on Saturday.

So you saw the invite last week. When the kids arrived to “Kings Cross” to find platform 9 3/4, they found this…


If you’ve read the HP books, you know that the witches & wizards must run into the wall between platform 9 & 10 at the train station (platform 9 3/4) and they will magically be transported into the other world. So we set up a “fake wall” that the the Hogwarts’ students could “run into.” The brick fabric is gossamer that I got from this place. I had intended on putting it all over the dining room and hallway to turn it into a castle. But, I ran out of time…and realized that our house, with the brick and stucco walls was close enough to a “castle” for a 9-year old’s party!

Once all of the guest arrived, we had a sorting ceremony where all of the kids put on the sorting hat and pulled out a card telling them which house they had been placed into. I just made up cards for Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff because Em was adamant that none of her friend would want to be a Slytherin. Our lovely Professor McGonnagal (Audrey’s older sis, Yvette) helped “sort.”


Addie was so excited to be a Gryffindor!


Then each student got to pick a wand.


J. and I made wands using this tutorial. And we also handed out their textbook – which was full of the most crucial Harry Potter spells…


and some potions and ingredients…


I found a similar book and copied the idea. I collected the pieces, laid the booklet out in InDesign, printed it on fake parchment paper and then just “bound” it together with some twine. It was a huge hit. As we were walking to school this morning one of the kids ran past and tried to cast a spell on Em. Apparently we turned out some pretty good students in our short little day together.

Once we had our supplies and were sorted into houses, the students got their schedules for the day.


Then they were off to class. In Prof. McGonnagall’s Transfiguration class they practiced casting spells. Then each of them were “transformed” into a character from Harry Potter. They had to ask their classmates questions to try to figure out who they had been turned into.


And then they moved onto Herbology with Professor Sprout. There they learned about an important potion ingredient, and planted some ginger. (It was the weirdest plant/seed/root I could find for them to plant!)


And finally, they went to everyone’s favorite class, Potions with Professor Snape. We had the most fun coming up with all of the potions.


All of the potion ingredients were edible. Not necessarily delicious…but edible! We had a lot of gatorade, lime drink, strawberry syrup, dark syrup, coconut, cherry juice, pixie sticks…oh, and POP ROCKS!


A few of the bottles I borrowed from friends, but most of these bottles I have collected over time. I used labels from DreamLoft on Etsy and just added text in Illustrator and printed them on adhesive backed paper so they were like real labels.


Most of the kids actually tried their potions. Although, I’m not sure I would! They were all very pretty and colorful, but I’m certain didn’t taste as pretty as they looked!


(Charlie came straight from a baseball game, so he was a little smudge-y!)

After classes, there was a final exam (it wouldn’t be school without a test, right?!) which I am pleased to report ALL students passed.


And then we had ButterBeer (delicious recipe here!) back in the Great Hall…


And Cauldron Cakes…(cupcakes dipped in chocolate with caramel – gold – frosting!)


And, to top it all off? A little bit more sugar. We re-created the Honeydukes Sweet Shoppe that the characters in the books visit on their Saturday trips to Hogsmeade.


The students got to “shop” and fill their goody bags to take home. (Again with the label paper. I printed out the Honeydukes logo and we stuck them onto small white craft bags.)


Of course we had chocolate frogs…


And Bertie Bott’s…


We also had Acid Pops, Fillabuster’s Fizzes, Professor Sprout’s Magic Mushrooms and Dumbledore’s lemon drops!

It was a little too hot for a quidditch match, so we finished with a little viewing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The planning and execution of the party was so much work, but so very fun. All of Em’s friends are so sweet and ensured me that it was the “best Harry Potter party ever!” And that made the birthday party hangover on Sunday, all worthwhile.


Happy 9!

Dear Emma Gracie Girl -

Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet girl. I’ve been obsessing about this post the entire week.  I don’t want to say I’ve been dreading it, but…I’ve been dreading it. I am finding it impossible to write about everything that is floating around in my head (and in my heart) at this moment. What is tripping me up the most is the fact that you are now – NINE! Nine…one little year away from double digits. It doesn’t seem possible.

It is also near impossible to write something that I haven’t already written before. Although you are really trying new things (like volleyball!), it mostly seems that you are just getting better and better at everything you were already so very good at.


You have had a fantastic year as a third-grader, including a recent report card where you could absolutely not get any higher marks if you tried. It was perfect. You were nominated class president and I think secretly enjoyed the little bit of bossiness that it allowed you. To my delight you have taken to the piano like you were born to play, we’ve found a dance class that you really love, and you are finding your voice and place at our church. As I watch you grow, I sometimes have to pinch myself and ask “how did we get so lucky to have a gift like you?”


You continue to work on being a good friend, which I’m so thankful for. But I’m probably most grateful for your vigilance and dedication in your job as a big sister. Nothing makes my morning better than walking you and Addie to school and watching you lean over to kiss her goodbye as you say, “I’ll see you at recess. Love you.”


You are a parent’s dream, Emma Grace. I know we’ll have rough patches (heck, we have already hit a few!), and I’m sure there will be times when we are disappointed in one another, but for every tough moment we have, there are at least a thousand others where I couldn’t be more proud to have you as a daughter.


I love you, Gracie. Happy Birthday and I hope you get everything you reach for this year.


My girl.

Dear Gracie Girl,

Apparently you have started to look like your Mama. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not, but we have been hearing this sentiment from a lot of people lately. I have never doubted for a minute that you are my girl. You are stubborn (like your Mama), a little bit type-A (like your Mama), and the last few nights I have caught you reading under the covers long after the lights were supposed to be out (er…not that your Mama ever did that! Hi, Mom & Dad.)

Last night I was in the backseat next to you and Daddy was DJ-ing during our ride home. He said, “this one is for Mommy,” and it was The Good Life by Kenny Chesney. While we were listening to it, I told you the story of how Daddy had given me that album to listen to, specifically that song, when I was pregnant with you and driving from Michigan to Aunt Meesh’s house, and how I listened to it at least 50 times that trip. When the song got to the line (that always makes me cry!)…

“Cos the one thing stronger than the whiskey: Was the sight of her holdin’ my baby girl.”

I felt your little hand slip into mine and you gave me a little squeeze. With tears streaming down my cheeks and you gently rubbing my hand the exact way I often do, I offered up a prayer of thanks for you. My girl.


Thank you for holding my hand, and my heart, sweet girl.
Love you,

All Christmas Music…All The Time.

Like it or not, Christmas music is here. I personally LOVE me some Christmas music, although I usually refrain until after Thanksgiving before breaking out every version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” (still searching for a really good one!). But between the girls working on a Christmas piano duet, Emma on a mission to learn her entire Christmas book by Thanksgiving (and is going to succeed, I think!), and the rehearsals for the Christmas Eve pageant – our house is alive with the Christmas tunes. Needless to say we are already dreaming of white Christmases around here.

And then I was hunting for some photos and videos for Aunt JB this week and ran across this little gem…

Even if you are not a fan of Christmas music, our lil’ Emma Grace (from back when she was only 3!) might just change your mind.

“Clap for us, Mommy!”

It all just goes by too quickly. *Sigh*

Another Garden…

…of the Secret kind.

Em started her Summer Book Club with a few of her best friends today. They are reading The Secret Garden.


So far she loves the book and I am enjoying re-reading it with her.


It is incredible to watch all of the girls taking it so seriously.


If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times – we are so very lucky to have such an amazing group of friends to fill our life with great times, fun and plenty of smiles.


Next week Addie has offered up her garden as the Book Club’s meeting place, so we’ll get some more good shots of the sunflower, hopefully in bloom.

Little Fishy in a Parka.

I promised Em a swim parka if she stuck with the swim team for a few months and really worked hard. The swimming is still going strong and she has definitely stuck by it. She knew her parka was waiting for her at swim on Monday and she couldn’t get to the pool fast enough. She got to celebrate her new parka with her friend Avery and now it is hard to get her to take it off.