Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We wish each and every one of you the gifts if the season...faith, family and friends! God bless each one if you!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cruising with Mickey


We set sail last Friday on our Disney Cruise! We were excited and quite the adventure...more than we bargained for to include a little one with a fibrile seizure, a round of the stomach flu but hey...that is what big families do...go with the flow and find the hidden treasures among all the stuff of life!

We had beautiful days at sea, great shows, good food and service, lots of time sloshing in the water, riding the crazy water slides and just enjoying ourselves ...days at sea were our favorite and were a treat after busy days at Disney World!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Finding the Unexpected

This year, 2013, is our 25 Anniversary. Darrell and I had always hoped and planned ...at least in our heads...that we would be able to go in a getaway in celebration of our time together. Those plans have always included all of our kids...but with so many things going in in our lives and not knowing the status of the 3 littles...we gave up those plans and walked away from all of them on a Monday last February. I personally had a lot of hope riding on that family vacation as we have been through some hardships as a family and I was praying it might be healing for us. I do have to admit the next day I cried a bit as I surrendered those hopes to God and gave it all to him. The following Friday, my mother-in-law called me out if the blue not knowing about my surrender and offered to take all 11 of us on a Disney Cruise as her treat...the trip would also include some if Darrell's sisters and their family for a total of 18! I made a few phone calls to Darrell and the agency the kids are with and they all said go for it!

We spent many months saving, added a few days to Walt Disney World, started the passport process for the 3 littles and planned. There were many uncertainties along the way to include whether everyone could get off work and a passport arriving  less than a week before we left but it was all in 
God's perfect timing.

We headed out on a chilly November day and picked dad up from work.we then headed to western Massachusetts to pick up Jessy. Michaela was flying in to Disney on Saturday. We drove through the night with the intent of stopping the next day somewhere in Georgia or northern Floridia. What we didn't expect was to make such good time we actually arrived in Disney a day early! What was suppose to be a travel day ended up becoming a day of swimming and visiting the shops in Downtown Disney! What a gift it was to have a down day. 

But the thing of it all that we weren't expecting was it was totally decorated for Christmas! Detailed beautifully decorated decorations met us while carols played every where!  If you have never been to Disney at Christmas time...it is a special experience...even the fountains go to the rhythm of the music and it was just spectacular to the carols.

We did 5 busy days at Disney.  We rode rides, saw shows, ate great food, and met Mickey! There were lots to do. This trip was quite different than other trips as we had never traveled there with little ones. There were times that were fun and crazy...sweet and tender ...and some frustrating time. The point of the matter is that we were all together as much as we could be and made special memories together....that is the blessing of family!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Early Bit of the Holidays



Aunt Suzy and Oma visited this weekend...actually brought Jess from a cruise she had joined them on. We won't see them at the holidays so we celebrated early.


We ate supper and went to Orange Leaf for a special treat and came home to give gifts. There was plenty of excitement in the area. Harmony turned to me and grinned as she held her treasures tea set and said, "Merry Christmas mom." It was very sweet.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jess's Adventures


Jess just returned from a 9 day cruise in the Caribbean with her Oma, Aunt Suzy and Aunt Cheryl.



She was able to swim with a dolphin, visit a friend from school, see some great sites, and enjoy the warm sunshine! After the cruise, she was treated to  2 Broadway shows. She got to see her favorite Phantom of the Opera! She saw Romeo and Juliet staring one of her favorite actors, Orlando Bloom. She went to a Flyers Hockey Game and Six Flags America.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Renwinman






Today we had a Renwinman... A gathering of the Reynolds, Winslows and Lowmans for a fun day of togetherness! These are te after pictures of the kids...after food, games, running outside, dessert (yum), and lots of good conversation!

Who Does This Look Like?

I love watching my girl dance! Today was a special treat that I got to watch her for quite awhile...and check out what I saw in the pictures...

Just like her big sister Michaela...Kiara sticks out her tongue when she is concentrating on a dance step! How crazy is that?
Just loving it!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

God Has Our Back

A few weeks ago while in prayer time, I felt The Lord telling me he needed to do a great work in my husband before we leave for am extended vacation in a few weeks. In my thoughts I could think of all the possibilities and shared with my husband what The Lord told me and we laughed as to where my thoughts had raced.

About 2 weeks ago, we traveled to Delaware with our 7 younger children. Darrell went on with our 3 older boys to West Virginia to an Alert Camp. I stayed with family in Delaware.

On Friday, after a 5 mile hike into Harpers Ferry, while back at camp, Darrell started to feel uncomfortable and mentioned to one of the dads that he wasn't feeling well. That dad, Major Doug Daragin kept a close eye on him.  When Darrell said he thinks he need to be seen at a hospital Doug accompanied him to the emergency room of a local urgent care. Once there, they assessed he was having a heart attack.

I received the call from the ER that he was being flown to a regional hospital in the area. After figuring out our exact destination...Winchester, VA, settling the younger 4 children with their Oma, and grabbing a few personal belongings and loading into the car we were off. That is Darrell's youngest sister, Suzy, and myself.

After letting the reality of the situation sink in...I started to tremble. After a moment of realizing what I was doing, I stopped myself and started to repeat some of the Lords promises and took a look at the answered prayers we were living out and knew we were going to be okay...including Darrell. I collected my thoughts and began to send out prayer requests through Facebook, texts, phone calls and emails. The suring up of prayers could be felt. I prayed for God to be our shield after I listened to one of my favorite songs, "I will be your shield".  We had friends calling and praying with us on the 3 hour trip.

You know the amazing thing about this...it happened only 12 miles from a regional heart hospital that just happened to have a team on stand by waiting for him when he came in....just amazing!

We arrived at the critical care unit and found Major Dagarin and his son in the waiting room ministering to the folks there. He spoke with us and sent us back into the unit. Suzy and I were able to speak with the nurse, and Darrell. Darrell had been flown in to the hospital and taken into the cardiac unit for a cardiac catherization where they found a small artery behind the heart to be 95% blocked. That was the only blockage they found, they put a stint in and he was doing well.  What encouraging news to hear! They let us stay a few minutes since we had arrived after visiting hours and we headed off into the night to find a hotel room. 

The hospital had tried to locate a room for us but did not have any success. We tried a Holiday Inn Express close to the hospital. I walked in and the man at the desk was typing. When I asked for a room he informed me that the last room of the night had just canceled and it was ours and we had lucked out. We knew luck had nothing to do with it....God was meeting us right where we were and we knew it!

The next morning, we headed back to the hospital and found Darrell in good spirits. Although extremely tired he said he felt really good and was even breathing well.  We visited and made a plan for the day which included running to Walmart to grab some comfortable clothes for Darrell to travel home in and some toiletry items for us since I had left my bag with the kids by accident. We also planed to check in in the boys and see how they were doing.

Back at Oma's house, with the 4 younger kids, help started to arrive in the form of Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Dave, Oma and Opa Fitzgerald and Aunt Carolyn. They of course brought all the cousins  and lots of food, movies, and time at the park followed. The kids did amazingly well through it all.

While we were doing our errands, we had a phone call from Major Daragin who told us he was praying for one of the dad's at the father son camp to step up and be there for our boys. One came forward with out him even asking...we were grateful for Mr. Tucker! My boys decided they wanted to finish the camp and were encouraged to by Lt. Mike Donnely who was running the camp. 

Mr. Tucker and Lt. Donnely offered to put Suzy and me up at their homes. Mr. Donnely was closer to the hospital and had a guest room which we took him up on. That night we were able to meet his wife, Patti and fellowship with the ladies. We met at Panera Bread...my first time. It is amazing how the Lord brings folks together and gives them common ground. We enjoyed ourselves and were encouraged by the women. We were very grateful they let us join them.

We followed Patti home after meeting with the women and headed to bed after being shown our rooms. I made sure to take a picture of the room Suzy stayed in...it was one of their boys rooms and was painted like a castle by Patti. My boys would love it!

The next mornings Suzy and I got a late start but made it in time to hear the message sitting behind the Alert boys in their uniforms...they looked sharp and the message was really good. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to church to be with the boys when the pastor announced from the pulpit that one of the Alert dads had had a heart attack and the congregation prayed for him....our boys hadn't heard that description yet!  They handeled it very well.  I was able to talk to Mr. Tucker and his wife and thank them for helping our boys. We visited with some of the ladies we had met the night before while the boys marched back to camp to start to clean up camp.

Suzy and I then headed to camp to help the boys clean up, take the tent down and pack the van. Once that was done, they fed us lunch. It was awesome to meet the dads and see my boys interact with their new friends. The boys talked fast telling about their adventures but the one thing that they kept saying was"I wish dad would have been with us!" They said their goodbyes and we headed to the hospital to visit Darrell who was now in a step down unit because he was doing so well.

The boys spent time with Darrell and filled him in on all that happened.  They were very relieved to see he was okay. We were being told he was going to be discharged early and would expect to leave the next day. Suzy headed home with Jason so he could help pack them up and bring them back the next day with Suzy and Oma. I kept Brandon and Michael with me and we headed back to the Donnelly's for the night....they played with the Donnelly kids and I chatted with Mike and Patti before we all turned in at 10.

The next morning, the Donnelly's made a huge breakfast for us before we said our goodbyes and headed to the hospital. I was very excited about seeing our little ones and getting on the road towards home. We were very grateful for their hospitality.

Once at the hospital, things were going much slower than expected.  We had been told the day before that Darrell would go out around 6 for a Echo test before being released and that would happen around 11....the kids arrived around 11. It was exciting and funny to see folks faces as we trekked up to Darrell's room. The ladies at the desk said only children of the patient were allowed up. Suzy grinned and said yes, they all are and kept on going! They were all glad to see dad! 

It was lunch time and they started to figit. We headed to Chik-fil-a for lunch and some play time in their indoor play area. Jeanette and Suzy had to get on the road because Suzy had to work later that night and we were hoping to leave. Darrell went down for his test around 3...and here is the cool part...he had NO permanent damage to his heart! We were all praising The Lord for that and we finally checked out and headed for home at 5.

Needless to say it was a long drive...arriving at 2:45 in the morning on Tuesday. We slept in till 9 and all took long naps in the afternoon and even went to bed early too!

There were so many God moments during our days...his provision of Darrell's protection, the details of Doug Daragin's prayers being answered medically for Darrell and provisions for our boys at camp. Ours boys were brave and strong at the camp with their dad not being there. Many wonderful things were told to me of their compassion, their leadership, and their bravery during the weekend by more than one dad. I am very proud of their choices and have continued to see them helping out here at home. It has been truly amazing.  The provisions of the hotel room, and home to stay in as well as the ladies fellowship encouraging us when we needed it was amazing. The prayer coverage by family, friends and Alert have been amazing. We came home to 10 days of meals being prepared for us. Our church family offering to come to our home for house church this week.

We know God has had our back through this journey and know this is part of a bigger plan.  It has been amazing to be on a front row seat to what could have been a scarey time for our family.  Nothing but amazing can be said for what we have experienced!


The Miracle of the Day

This morning I received a text...I was so excited for the news and this day was made even more special by the guests that visited because of that text!

Tonight we had the pleasure of celebrating with some dear friends from New Mexico that their dear daughter had returned to them!  It has been a time of growth for their entire family and we are just so excited for them this night...God is good ...All the time!

Another dear friend and her kiddos came too...it has been over 5 years since we had all sat in a room together but as with all friends of Christ...those friendships are kept strong by our bond in Him!

Praising The Lord tonight for his wonderful gift!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Alert Cadet...West Virginia Father Son Camp

Darrell and the 3 older boys are in West Virginia today on their first day of the 2013 East Regional Encampment! After settling in last night and some liquid sunshine, they headed off today for a 5 mile hike into Harpers Ferry and were able to see some of the sites of the historic area.  Everyone is very tired today but enjoying their time!



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Jasmine and Jess

Today Jess entered Jasmine in her first horse show...the Fall Fuzzies in New Boston. She entered 5 classes and came home with 3 Second places! She was in the green horse walk, trot, canter. One class was about how much pink you could wear on you and your horse...as the littles in the class had their horses dressed in pink table clothes, ribbons and streamers. That and one other class was to support breast cancer awareness month.

We were proud of her efforts and enjoyed a beautiful crisp NH day.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Matters of the Heart

It has been a tradition in our family to present each of our children with a special night out when they turn 13....an age when they typically start putting away childish things.  In the past this included an evening out with dad for our older girls where he presented them with a "true love waits" ring.  When our girls went it was a part of a study on purity and discussing things in their future as to what The Lord was putting on their hearts. They committed to wait for their special someone when The Lord brought them into their lives.  This is an exciting time for us as parents to come along side them to encourage and support them.

We continued this tradition with our newest 13 year old who happens to be
our oldest son just this past week.  This time mom and dad went. We took him to one of new favorite places...the Bavarian Restaurant. It is a quaint German restaurant right here in NH where the food is every bit the delicious German food we enjoyed while living there.  It was special to Jason too as he was able to spend time last summer in Germany with Darrell and his 2 older sisters, Michaela and Jessica.  We had wonderful discussions about what he felt The Lord calling him too in the future and how he might start preparing for those things now.  We talked about those things and what that might look like with a wife and family some day.  It was so encouraging to hear our sons thoughts and to take the time to hear his dreams for the future.  He has really put some thought into things and was able to answer some tough questions...God is preparing his heart.

Excited to have a front row seat looking forward to what The Lord will do in his life!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Simple Treasures

We all love gifts, surprises, magical moments of the special times in our lives. Some gifts are wrapped up in pretty packages or as Maria in the Sound of Music sings...packages tied up in strings! I am sure we can remember a time in our childhood when we received the exact special something we were dreaming of or the special surprise we just weren't expecting.

Then there are those of us who love to give special gifts...mine are usually around my family...seeing just the right thing that makes their eyes dance or grow misty as they receive it. There is as much for the giver as there is for the receiver in these instances...

And then there are the gifts that The Lord gives us...you know the ones...sometimes we over look them in our busy life, or we choose to take them in stride and don't recognize them as actual gifts. Some times our expectations tell us we deserve them. These gifts have become common place when in fact they were made for us to see on a difficult days as a reminder that He is still is control of the circumstances that seem to be spiraling out of control.  They could also be on a joyful day to add more to the celebration! How exciting is that?

I am reading 1000 gift and it has breathed new life into my daily journey of diapers, schoolwork and keeping my home...all things that if kept in perspective are already a daily opportunity to serve those I love! Just this morning, as I headed out to the barn at 5 am to clean stalls I was treated to a seriously breathtaking night sky...it is after all still very dark here in New Hampshire at that hour of the morning. It was just beautiful and I have caught myself thinking of it several times in awe...I wanted to go wake everyone up and show them but I knew it was meant just for me at that moment as a gift! I have come to look at the little things differently and am starting to look for these things with great expectations...excitedly looking for them in my day...during the good and hard times.

Some of the gifts of the past week have included: children laughing, the fresh smell of lavender (my favorite), exciting discoveries of a very large skunk on the porch, a note from a friend, and spending time today with a new friend.  I am looking forward to what I discover next...these treasures waiting to be found!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our Weekend

This weekend was all too short but a special gift! Everything we had 'scheduled' fell through for a variety of reasons and we found ourselves planted at home. We like being at home and shared some special moments together.

Jess took Michael out for ice cream and let him order a large! It was 5 scoops of ice cream on a waffle cone...He tried to finish but brought some home anyway. There were lots of smiles and giggles together!

Mom worked on changing out the seasonal clothes....there is still a mountain of summer things to weed through but the kiddos have what they need for now. Only a few needs for the youngest and oldest of boys and it's minimal...what a blessing!

The kids relished their time with their big sister....today I enjoyed their giggles as they sat on her bed winding yarn into balls for her to knit in the next week...many hands make light he work. She also took all 7 of the, and the dog for a hike...Darrell and I were given the gift of a quiet house....I took a short rest and them started dinner while Darrell matched socks...one of. Y least favorite jobs! We them scooted,to the grocery store to grab a few items for the family dinner with dessert....yum.  good food and family ...what a treat.

We also enjoyed some horse time before the realization that our fences needing mending which Darrell and Jason were quick to fix. We finished our evening sharing some popcorn after showers and watching a sing along together....

It is the simple joys in life that seem to bring so much pleasure ...unexpected gifts!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Michael!

Today we celebrate Michael Man's 12th birthday! We are so excited to watch him grow and change right before our very eyes! We love his humorous creative spirit and thank The Lord for him! The name Michael means "gift from God"...what a special treasure we have been given!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pearly Whites

Today our brave not so little man had 8 teeth pulled in an effort to help correct a multitude of teeth...brave!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Alert Cadet --New Hampshire Style

Last Saturday, after years of laying the ground work, lots of prayer and "beating the bushes" as Major Dagarin  phrased it...it was a moment to savor....the commissioning of New Hampshire 1st Bravo! Ten families start this group of eager dads and their sons to make a difference in the lives of their families and communities. The ceremony was a beautiful testament to these dads hearts to capture their sons hearts...Lt. Col. Kevin Edwards gave examples of preparing the arrow to be fired and how Alert can be used to prepare sons to enter the world. It was a beautiful ceremony.


Another really amazing thing was the unit flag designed by one of the cadets...Jonathon Bilodeau. It was beautiful! The even more amazing thing was that his mom Sarah sewed it...she was our own Betsy Ross!

Jonathon was also promoted to LTC--- Leadership Training Corp. His mother and father were able to pin on his new rank.

Darrell has taken leadership of the unit for now and was promoted to 2LT....he was this rank when we first married 25 years ago but in the Army. I told him that the second time round is always sweeter...I really believe it is...he is so excited about this program and its potential! Even sweeter is the fact that our oldest daughters, Michaela and Jessica, were able to pin his rank on...something they were never able to do when their dad was in the Army and made it to Major. Darrell's mom flew in to see this all happen too!

The ceremony was followed by a potluck in the gym...many folks lingered for hours. The young kids and moms went out to the playground while young adults played volleyball in the gym.

 

It was a cool beautiful evening to enjoy fellowship, laugh a bit after all the hard work and enjoy ourselves.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Last days of Summer

It's Labor Day weekend and we are winding down our summer in anticipation of school and fall activities starting up.  It is a happy sad time ...ending the carefree days of summer and looking towards our full days of school and activities. I've looked at the weeks ahead...they are chock full of meetings, activities, school work and field trips...

But for today, we are enjoying the last days of swimming in the pool, days with a less active agenda with liberal time to play outside, lay in the hammock, work in the gardens and many relaxed hours with family!

Kiara on her birthday with her new bracelet!

Our last day in the pool before closing:(

Glenn and Mary W in front of the bug as we ended our morning escapades right before they walked up the hill to their surprise party--they had NO clue what was around the bend for them!

One of the huge worms from our flower beds that we found...told you these pictures were random!

Our crew with some of the Winslows at the park after meeting at the Bubble in Wolfboro for ice cream.

Our bug lover showing me his latest catch! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Kiara

It was 8 years ago today that our world was given the Kiara gift...such a tiny package...only 4.1 pounds but what a small package with big impact! We love the beautiful young lady The Lord is making her to be....we love you!