Sunday, December 29, 2013

Virginia Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas!!  
Our Christmas season began with a very sweet preschool winter (singing) program, performed by Cooper preschool students (where I work).  With 150 kids on stage, and an audience full of supportive family members, it caused for quite the scene.  One of the songs that has been stuck in my head is "Must Be Santa!"  

On Friday December 20th, Aaron and I left Casey Boy with the Billings parents and we flew to VA for one week.

Music played a big part during our VA visit.  On Sunday, Aaron helped accompany on bass during a pre-service song with my dad, Phil, and Sarah (violin).

A new drum set in the basement gave us some entertainment as well :)  Aaron also enjoyed some piano lessons throughout the week, from none other than myself ;)  When we get home we'll pull out the keyboard for him to keep his skills up!  

One of my favorite events during the week was the Christmas Eve Service, hosted by Lindale Mennonite Church.  Every year four Mennonite churches, in the Northern District, plan a joint service.  It is a tradition for my family to attend this service.  And of course, we got roped in to helping with music.  Aaron and I were a part of an octet that sang during pre-service, and helped lead a few songs during the service.  For special music Aaron sang with Kevin Eby, a friend from Hesston College (pictured below).  Their beautiful harmonies were noticed by everyone and Aaron received great affirmation!  A few ministers were even suggesting we move back to VA, because of all the talent they want to add to their church! ha

 Cheering for the Chiefs on Sunday while we were there!  

For Christmas, Aaron made three beautiful shelves for some of the women in our families!  (and another beautiful piece that I will post at a later date)  This shelf is hanging inside my mom's front door.

On Christmas Day, we invited Grandma and Grandpa Risser and Neil Showalter for lunch!  Everyone helped get the meal together:  Dad and Phil peeled potatoes, Aaron made 7-layer salad, Mom planned and shopped for it all, the grands made the turkey and cranberry salad, and I whipped up the mashed taters and helped the chef pull it all together!  

While in VA we enjoyed connecting with Zion church friends, including the Wenger family!  Abraham and Aaron are the cutest, most precious boys, and we miss them dearly! These kids are their stand-in grandkids, until they get ones of their own! :)

There is no way I can comment on everything we did while in VA, but I hope these snippets are helping!  On December 26th, the Risser family (my mom's side) got together for a meal, fellowship, and games!  Picture below are only SOME of the Risser grandkids represented.  We missed all who weren't able to come!

And last but not least, Aaron and I are celebrating our FIRST year of marriage!!  We thawed our wedding cake topper, made by my cousins Lena and Leah, which was surprisingly still good a year later!  One year with an amazing, talented, good-lookin' man has been the BEST!  

Monday, December 9, 2013


Hi all!!  Last week was so much fun!  We got our tree set up and decorated! Our tree fits perfectly in the dining room!  Our house feels so cozy and festive.

Check out Aaron's grade school creation :)  Jeanne sent this to us last year and it has made a second appearance in our home.

Can I just tell you how wonderful Aaron is?!  He got me a beautiful Christmas bouquet of flowers!  He surprises me all the time!

In other fun news, my older brother turned a year older!  Nate and Maggie are in Wichita for the month of December and we got to celebrate with them!  

 We received the sweetest package in the mail today from my mom!  She made us a stocking for Casey!!  :)

Two weeks until Christmas Break ya'll!!  So excited for some relaxation!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holidays are here!

 Last weekend Aaron and I loaded up the truck and headed East!  We planned to be with my Dad's extended family for the annual Thanksgiving gathering in Hartville, Ohio.  The trip to Ohio took a bit longer than we expected because of the CRAZY holiday traffic.  When we arrived we had a lovely dinner at my Grandma Yoder's house with my mom and dad, and brother and sister-in-law!  (Bravo to Nate and Maggie for finishing their crazy busy 2 weeks of Residency Interviews!!  You two are awesome!!)

We stayed in this beautiful refinished barn that my Great Uncle owns.  The day before we arrived, Hartville got snow and it was truly and winter wonderland!  The barn is gorgeous with a full size kitchen, large living area, 2 bedrooms, a large office area, and an unfinished basement.  My Great Uncle Leroy has plans to use the facility as a place for church communities to gather, etc.  My dad's dream would be to make it a Mennonite historical library/research center.   Oh, I forgot to mention that the Yoder Thanksgiving gathering was held in this barn.

While in Ohio we did lots of eating, shopping at Thrift shops, flea-markets, and mega hardware stores.  Wow we found some great deals!  (work gloves, dress pants, golf shirt, Carhartt brand Christmas gifts, and a Casey toy of course)  After a day full of shopping, Friday evening we got together with my extended Yoder family.  One of my cousins has 3 beautiful blonde haired children and Aaron did an awesome job playing games with them!  He's such a pro with the kids.

This was the morning before leaving Hartville to make the trek home.  
(mom, grandma, and my sister-in-law, maggie) We were so thankful for some home cooked meals, lots of hugs, laughs, and games playing with our family.

Oh and did I mention, I ATTENDED MY FIRST NFL FOOTBALL GAME!!  YES!!  I know my dad is proud of Aaron for getting me to love football and baseball! :)  The stadium was huge!!

He's just so happy when he's cheering on the Chiefs!!  Oh and it was pretty chilly the last half of the game, but we were thankful for overall nice weather!

Can you see the size of that speaker?  Whoa!

We had a wonderful break with family and can't wait until Christmas for more holiday fun!
Love, Maria

Saturday, November 23, 2013

We're BIG Chiefs fans these days!!

 Last weekend was the Billings Family Thanksgiving Day!  We had a blast eating Turkey, yummy mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, awesome cranberry salad, and all the rest of the fixins!  We  got to spend some time playing with our niece and nephew outside because the weather was gorgeous!  After the meal we watched football, played some bball and threw the football in the backyard.  We are very fortunate to have such loving families.  

Next week we head East to celebrate our second Thanksgiving!!!  Whoo hoo!  We will drive to Hartville, OH on Tuesday evening and hopefully it will take us close to 15 hours (max!).  It always snows in Ohio over Thanksgiving, so pray for good driving weather!  We will be meeting my parents and my brother and sister-in-law, and all of my Yoder relatives.  Phil, my little bro, is still studying overseas in Morocco and will come home in December!  Which we are all very excited to see him and hear all about his adventures.  (and knowing him, he'll have MANY crazy stories)

This week Aaron put up our christmas lights on the front of the house around the the porch.  It looks so beautiful all lit up at night.  I am very excited to continue the holiday celebrations in the next couple weeks.

Danielle, my sister-in-law, took some great family pictures while we were in Garden City, KS.  Enjoy the Chiefs pictures!  Casey wore the jersey for under 5 minutes, but he filled it out very well.  The last picture I added just for fun because it really shows how he filled out the jersey :)  We'll use a picture or two on our Christmas card, so get excited for that to come in the mail in the next month!

Such good lookin men!!!

I loved the black and white!


Happy Thanksgiving!!  We love you all!

Monday, November 11, 2013


Our small family is staying busy these days!  We've had some fun times with friends, watching football, shopping with family, and enjoying time together!  This past weekend Aaron's sister's family came to visit and we got to go shopping :)  Need I say more?  I haven't been out shopping like this in awhile, so I was excited!  We found some great decorations at Hobby Lobby!  Aaron had previously installed these shelves and they have sat empty for a few weeks.  Do you like how we each took a shelf to decorate?  I sure love it!

On Saturday morning Aaron decided to rake the leaves in our front yard and gather them up!  We had fun doing this big job together.  The trees in our front yard are huge and we still haven't raked the back yard.  Yikes!

 I just love it when we get to play with Logan and Makenah!!
Aaron was teaching Logan how to fly a plane on the IPad.  Logan's big stuff these days!  He answers questions so cute and he totally understands what we are saying!  Adorable!

Uncle Bear is so loved!

Last night (Sunday), we went to see Brian Regan perform in Wichita!  He is a comedian and was hilarious! For both of us, this was our first time going to see a comedian.  Oh boy did we enjoy ourselves!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I'm a little nervous...tomorrow I have to drive a car with a KANSAS license plate.  AHH!!!  WHAT??!!  The license plate doesn't look right on the car.  I think I need to just go out and look at it for a little bit longer for it to sink in.  I live in Kansas.  Who would've guessed that 2 years ago?     Okay, okay.  Enough of my ranting.  I am very happy to be in the mid-west :)  Yes, I just have to get used to the tag on my car.  ha!  (thanks to my parents for letting us "buy" the car!!)

I just HAD to snap a picture of Aaron working tonight!!!  I was just so happy to see him out there working so hard in his garage already!  He's such a hard worker and when he wants something done, he does it quickly, and very thorough.  So he has a cement counter-top project going on right now, and he needed something to put them on.  I suggested 5 gallon bucks...ha!  That's a laugh.  Aaron built these MEGA strong saw horses (is that how you spell it, Jenna?) in like 20 minutes.

On to a new subject.  I went through my phone and saw this cute sequence of pictures from when we had our Apple theme at school.  I had the kids help with each step of making applesauce.  They got to use (very dull) knives and cutting boards to cut the apples.  Then they loved watching them cook and smelled the sweet goodness!  Finally we put it through the food mill and got to eat the applesauce!

A couple weeks ago the extended Billings family had a reunion in Salina, Kansas, at a nice park!  We took a few family pictures and I had to post this nice one of us!  The day was beautiful for a carry-in meal, and we got to play most of the afternoon with the niece and nephew on the playground.  

Happy "Hump" Day Everyone!
We are missing and loving both sets of family!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pictures of our New Home!

 Let's talk about our new home!  We are completely loving everything about our house.  About a week ago we moved in and got started right away with some small home improvement jobs.  The bigger jobs were updating light fixtures, installing new ceiling fans, cleaning the gutters, and installing a washer/dryer.  Aaron of course did a spectacular job...seems like it runs in the Billings genes!  

Our new address is 224 S. Weaver Hesston, KS 67062.  
My awesome mother already sent us a house warming gift!

The garage was on the agenda for today, and it turned out great!!  I can just picture the two men in the house spending some time out here.

This is the back door, with the coat rack that my handy man hung for me!   Oh and the awesome Jean Rug that came from VA!

Back patio door on the right, and a basement door on the left.  We were already able to enjoy using the grill in the awesome Fall weather!

Here's our kitchen!  It has already been put to good use.  Our first big remodeling project will be to put in new counter-tops, which are already made and waiting to be completed!  We thought the blue counter-tops looked a little dated and we wanted to try something new.

The laundry is kept behind the fold-able doors in the ktichen, which has become very handy.

I had to take a picture of this wedding gift :)

The office has an awesome book shelf, however currently it needs some decorating help.

On the main floor is the kitchen, dining room, living room, office, and a bathroom.  The bathroom you see here is connected to the office and was nicely remodeled by the previous owners.

Here's the view at the top of the stairs of the guest bedroom and the "blue room" (which has nothing in it yet).

Casey likes to lay right next to the window that's really low and bark at people.  It's cute.

This is the other view from the top of the stairs of the bathroom and master bedroom.

Upstairs bathroom

The master has a little room that we put our dresser in and then it's connected to the rest of the room.

I specifically took a picture of two of the fans Aaron installed.  Wow they look great!  (much better than the small, white fans that were there before)

I love our living area downstairs!!  It's so cozy.

Happy Weekend!