Summer Fun Family Time

This weekend was another great gathering of Marchand, Guillet and Lynn families.  Aunt Martha Marchand celebrated her 70th birthday party at the river in Staunton. We’ve been looking forward to the party for weeks!  Luckily, the party weekend lined up nicely with a visit from my Father, Nil. Nil and his sister (Aunt Gloria) drove in from Connecticut on a sunny and bright Friday the 13th of July.  Almost a year from when this all began and we all met for the very first time!  Gloria was meeting Martha in Winchester and staying over there for the weekend, so Nil dropped her off there and then headed another 25 minutes East to Purcellville for our weekend visit.

Friday night, we took Nil to Charlestown Races for dinner and horse races! He was very surprised and delighted. We had an awesome time catching up over dinner while the ponies ran!  We could not pick a winner between the 3 of us so we gave up and went home around 10.

Saturday morning we ran a few errands and I took Nil to see Steve’s folks for a few minutes.  I also introduced him to Nichol’s Hardware. A true destination in Loudoun County. It was hard to get him out of there!  At noon we went to the party about 45 minutes away in Staunton at the pavillion on the river. What a great turnout Aunt Martha had!  My Mom Pat, sister, Deena and great nephew Luke were invited too. It was the first time I’d seen Jeanne, Cecil, Vic and John since Christmas.

In March, we moved from our historic home in Hamilton to a “newer” 1989 built home on the golf course in Purcellville.  That, on top of an extremely busy work schedule,  has kept us hopping. At the party,  I caught up with new friends and family and we all enjoyed watching the kids running around having a ball.

Nil and I headed home before dark where we caught up with Steve. We visited for a few hours sitting on the deck watching the fireflies.  We had a great time catching up. Nil was very helpful with a few minor household projects. Some we completed others we did not (needed more parts!)  What a great weekend.  In the last year, my family has tripled in volume,  but it’s a great, warm feeling that everyone gets along and includes each other on the gatherings. I could not ask for a better outcome or response from such loving, wonderful and caring people. All of them…my family.

Until we all meet again!

Happy Anniversary!

Many wonderful anniversaries to celebrate in June.

On June 5th, 1999, I married my soul mate, Steve Gaitten. We celebrated our 19th year of marriage this year. We are having the time of our lives!

On June 22, 2017 , I got “the call” from my Aunt Martha. You know, the one where she said- “hello, Kelly. You were born 9/27/1966 and you have a heart murmur. We’ve been looking for you”. A year ago this week I began connecting with my biological family. First, with contact through my Aunt Martha, My Aunt Jeanne and my Uncle Victor. My Mother’s brothers and sisters all gathered around me and made feel most welcome. They had been searching for me but under the name Tracy Dawn Marchand. They did not know I was named Kelly Louise by my loving Mother and Father who adopted me.  Kelly Louise Lynn (now Gaitten), These are the only names I’ve ever known.

Martha, Jeanne, Me on the first row, John, Steve and Vic on second row
Me and my biological Dad- Nil Guillet!! I was his birthday surprise last year!
My half brothers, Ryan and Cory!

 

 

This blog is named for Kelly, my half sister who is 4 years younger.  Also, it’s to celebrate each and every family member I’ve found- who shares my DNA and all of my family who love me but do not share my DNA.  Family, what a gift!

This post is to also to acknowledge and celebrate a year of connecting with my new family. My Father, Nil, my brothers, Ryan and Cory and their amazing wives Kristen and Brittany and all of their beautiful children.  To having found my new Nieces and Nephews and Aunts and Uncles!

Kelly Louise and Kelly Marie!

My sister Kelly, my Niece Morgan and Kelly’s husband, Terry and her Father, Bob.  I love you all. I could not imagine how I would feel on the day I found you, but today the joy is still overwhelming in my heart. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Not only because I found you but because my family immediately grew bigger and better than ever before. Every day I learn something new, every day, I appreciate my life and all I’ve been blessed with. Looking back so far…it’s been an amazing journey. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Happy Anniversary, indeed.

Father’s Day

So many months have passed since I wrote an update! Many things have happened. All good! We sold our lovely Victorian home in Hamilton and moved 6 miles West to Purcellville in March. Our new house was built in 1989, it’s not new but it’s new to us after living in a 150 year old home.  For us, it’s like living in a 5 star hotel.  We miss our old home but we LOVE our new one!!  On top of an already busy real estate season, we added a move.  Somehow, we got it all done. My Mom and sister were a huge help. I could not have done it without them. I worked every single day with appointments and clients. I only really took one day off (move day) and then got right back to work. My Mom and sister unpacked most of our boxes and stocked and organized my closet for me while I was out with clients.  I could find all of my clothes and shoes!!  Then, within a week of moving into our new home, we had the interior painted, a fence put up for the dogs and a shed installed. It’s literally been a whirlwind. Did I mention this has been the busiest Spring market…ever? We hope to have an open house and invite all of the family and friends very soon.

The new house “Peppie’s Place on Pinehurst”

We had a cookout for Mother’s day but it rained. It’s been a wet Spring that has rolled into the first week of summer. Sigh….

This year, Father’s day snuck right up on me. I’ve been in contact with all of my newly found family as much as I can. With this schedule I don’t have time to go anywhere. We cancelled our vacation in February and have been running flat out ever since!

I text or talk with Kelly now every week or so- she’s really busy too, but we reach out when we have a moment. I try to call Nil weekly. I email regularly with Aunt Martha. I text, email or Facebook with Jeanne and Vic. I miss everyone!

Nil was planning to visit us in June but schedules are not aligning.  I was able to call and visit with him on the phone on Sunday to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. A first for both of us. He was at Ryan’s house with all of the family in Connecticut. We had a great conversation and put out some dates for a visit. He has not seen the new house yet. It has an amazing and deck overlooking the golf course! He’s going to love it.  We hope to see him in early July. The guest room is all ready!

More updates soon, I promise!

 

 

Christmas Time is Here- Come meet the family!

On December 23, 2017 the Gaitten, Lynn, Guillet and Marchand families came together. About 30 people were here at our house in Hamilton. We had the party during the day and it was unusually warm but overcast for December. That day was about 53 degrees. Nil drove down from Connecticut on Friday and stayed the weekend.

 

This photo was taken while we were visiting on Friday night getting ready for dinner!

From the “new” side of the family, my Father, Nil was in attendance representing the Guillet side.  (From the Marchand side, my sister, Kelly and her daughter Morgan and Kelly’s Father, Bob were going to surprise us. Steve knew about it but I didn’t. However, Morgan got sick with the flu so they did not end up driving down from PA and we missed them!)

In attendance from the Marchand side: Aunt Martha, Uncle Victor, Uncle John, Aunt Jeanne, along with cousin Mark, his wife Jennifer and their daughter, Marianna (my 2nd cousin).

My Mom (Pat), sister (Deena), nephew (Donald), niece (Casie), great nephew (Luke) and my brother in law (Rodney) were here plus Steve’s Mom (Pat), Father (Don), Sister (Christy), Brother in law (Cian), niece (Maggie), nephew (Jacob) were all in attendance. A few very close friends who are truly family were also here – Rose, Jasmine and Cody. My brother Ed was sick and Don Langley was home with new puppy- they could not attend and were sorely missed!

On Saturday around 11 am the family started to arrive! The idea was to spend quality time together. Some of my family has met my “new” family, some had not.  Nil had grown up around the corner from my biological Mother, Linda’s house so he knew her brother and sisters but they did not know each other well. Aunt Martha and Nil spent an hour chatting about who old friends and the old neighborhood. It turns out that they still know several of the same people. Martha said he always loved cars and could see that he still does today. He’s a fierce Ford guy!

We feasted on turkey, ham and a bounty of dishes everyone brought. The dining room table and side tables were overflowing with goodies. We setup drinks on the porch. Steve was in charge of fun and games in the upstairs of the barn.

There was quite a ping pong match between Steve, Jacob, Christy and Cian. Every time we have a family gathering they must play for the imaginary trophy and bragging rights. We had Jenga setup inside and Aunt Jeanne brought a fun game that had us all laughing. I don’t even know what it is called. She wrapped up a bunch of goodies in saran wrap until it was a huge ball that was passed around while throwing dice and quick timing. It kept us all giggling. I painted ornaments for everyone as a keepsake. Some were better than others. They all went so that made me happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no greater gift than family.  There is no greater gift than time together. This gathering meant the world to me!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. My blessings and wishes for a happy and healthy 2018 to all!

 

Meeting Cousin Denise

In early November, I got to meet my Father’s Brother’s oldest daughter….Cousin Denise! Denise lives in Florida and was ooming to Virginia to vacation about an hour from me. The best place to meet in the middle was my hometown of Occoquan. We settled in on Madigans by the water for our lunch spot. When I got there, Denise was already inside- in the bar looking for the Florida Gator’s Football game on the big screen and chatting up the bar tenders.   Denise and I were immediately comfortable and chatty with each other.  We shared all sorts of childhood stories and details. Turns out that we are in fact, very similar. She’s slightly older and she confessed she hoped she would remain in the family spot! I have no problem with that.  I enjoyed seeing many of her traits in myself. She’s bubbly and draws you right into the conversation and she’s hilarious and witty.

Denise and I also follow fairly strict diets.  I’m sugar/carb free which also knocks out gluten too. She’s gluten and dairy free. Both of us do this for health reasons and we find that we see great improvement in joint inflammation and stomach distress when we stick to proper meal planning.  We enjoyed salads and seafood. My kind of gal!!!  Denise tried the crab soup too. I didn’t it had a flour base but smelled delicious!  We have so many things in common. It was fascinating to compare how two people who grew up so differently to be so similar. I guess that’s DNA for you.   I hope to see her again soon!

The September Surprise!

In late Summer, Aunt Jeanne and I worked out a plan that they would come to visit on the 29th of September. This would be 2 days after our actual birthday on 9/27 but it fell on a Wednesday which is tough for work schedules. The 29th was a Friday, so that worked well for a visit and overnight stay. It was on the calendar and we were all looking forward to it.  Little did I know the surprise was on me.  On Friday the 29th, I got up early and got a few things done in the house getting ready for Jeanne and Cecil to stay over. She said they were expected to arrive between 4-5 so I had plenty of time to be totally ready. I went to the store and started a crock pot of chili then I went to work for a few hours.

I got home late afternoon and was scurrying all over when I saw a car in the driveway and a flash of green.  Hm. This didn’t look like Jeanne or Cecil and you could not miss that color from a mile away! Uncle Vic and John had pulled in and started unloading a mountain of food.  Vic was wearing this spiffy green shirt, my absolute favorite color!  They were part of the surprise but had arrived just before Jeanne and Cecil who arrived shortly. Aunt Martha arrived with Jeannie’s son (my cousin), Victor and his son Tyler (my second cousin).

They got me! Total surprise but I was thrilled everyone could be here for “our” birthday celebration!!

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While we worked on getting the food ready, Steve took Victor and Tyler to the upstairs of the barn where we have a “man cave” with  ping pong table, dart board and fun stuff to do.  Then, Steve got the drone out for a pre-dusk flight and let Tyler fly it,  resulting in this photo!

The more time I get to spend with my biological family,  the more insight I get into myself. I absorb it all like a sponge, trying to take it all in and figure out what parts of myself I see in them.  We had a lively dinner conversation about the parties Uncle Vic threw in his youth.  Aunt Martha told some stories on him that were hilarious. Jeanne was too young to attend said parties,  but knew all about it. Seeing their mannerisms, facial expressions and just hearing the laughter is pure joy. They are all funny, good natured and witty!

I’m still processing the fact that we found each other. It’s been less than a year and time is flying quickly. I treasure each moment with them, each phone conversation and each text.  There was an incident with a missing bowl of mashed potatoes once everyone left and it was a goofy misunderstanding and we all laughed so hard about it the next day.

I truly see myself in each one of them. It’s hard to explain but we are connected in so many ways I didn’t know what I was missing, until now.  I am very much looking forward to our next gathering here at Christmas with family from all sides who will get to meet each other for the first time. Can’t wait!

 

Birthday Blog – Today is the DAY!

Today is my birthday! 9/27 has always been a special day for me.  My parents made it that way. Every birthday and holiday were celebrated, but your birthday was your very own special day.   On my 5th birthday, Daddy brought home a pony in the back of his pickup truck.  This was typical behavior for him.  My Dad knew everyone in our small Town. He heard about someone with a pony that needed a new home, and he had a horse crazy daughter.  Perfect fit.

I named my pony Daisy. Daisy was my pride and joy and we were inseparable. Daisy listened to all of my secrets and we had long discussions about nothing (I did all of the talking, she would eat grass and swish her tail).   Daisy was a Shetland Pony.  They are prone to fits of temper and extreme stubborn-ness but not with me. Daisy was mean to just about everyone except me and my sister, Deena.  Daisy would run away if you tried to catch her for a ride.  All you had to do was sweet talk her with treats or carrots.  She bit my Dad on the hand and she kicked him more than once. She got me a few times too but I still loved her. She really did not like my Aunt’s dog, Precious.  Shetlands are know for their attitudes! Anyway, she was a special gift among many birthdays and special gifts along the way.  When I got older and bigger, I moved up to riding larger horses, Daisy became my sister’s pony. She and Deena got along for a while then Deena quickly outgrew her too.  Dee got a new, larger Pony (Roy) and Daisy was lonely.

Daisy went to live with a new family in Vermont. The day they came to pick her up, a van pulling a horse trailer pulled into our driveway. The trailer already had 2 horses in it. I wondered where Daisy was going to ride. They opened the van doors and in she went!  My special girl was on her next journey to be another little girl’s special surprise.  Still to this day, my favorite flower is the daisy and I collect daisy jewelry.

This photo shows my sister, Deena on Daisy and me on my Morgan horse, Slippers.  Some of my happiest childhood memories are horse and sister related. We had some incredible adventures and learned many life lessons through our years at the barn. Riding in the ring, shoveling out stalls and running the horses across the field to tie up at the fence while we went across the street to 7-11 for M&M’s. (Just one example).

Today, I am 51 years old.  As you may already know, this year has been unlike any other in my life.

With the help of Ancestry.com and my Pro Geneologist Michael (who built my family tree backward using my DNA),  my birth family found me in June of this year.  One of my cousins on Ancestry connected me with my Aunt Martha on my biological Mother’s side of the family, and presto, the connection was made.

I found out that my biological Mother (Linda), passed away in 2010. Her three siblings, Martha, Victor and Jeanne are all still here and they all live within a few minutes and hours of me.  My Aunt Jeanne is exactly 10 years older than me. Her birthday is also today, 9/27! She and I will always share this birthday. What a wonderful surprise! Happy Birthday Jeanne!

 

I have been thinking about this coincidence since I found out about my family. Aunt Jeanne would have been 10 years old when I was born. Her sister was in Washington, DC at the time. No one in the family knew about me except Linda’s older siblings, Martha and Victor.  Aunt Jeanne did not find out about me until many years later.  When we finally got to meet this Summer, it was a gift like no other. No one can plan for this. It’s a rare surprise that you don’t see coming and a roller coaster ride of emotions and information coming at you that you did not expect. It’s been thrilling at times and sad at others. Sad to find out that you will never get to meet your biological Mother.  My half sister, Kelly and my Aunts and Uncle are my only window into who she was. We have all connected and we talk and chat regularly. Spending time on the phone and Facebook, making up for lost time and getting to know each other. We visit when we can. It’s hard- life keeps getting in the way, but you find the time.

On Friday, Jeanne and her husband will come to see us for a visit. I cannot wait to hear more stories of her life and childhood and find out more my amazing, newly discovered Aunt and her family.  A very Happy Birthday, indeed.