Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving to Christmas.. My Favorite time of year!


Thanksgiving! It is a holiday I have always adored!Who doesn't enjoy the food, family and time to give thanks to all that is important?  
As a kid, this was a fun holiday that we spent with our immediate relatives.  I enjoyed playing with my cousins and being in the happy warmth of family. We would set up board games and play for hours while the aroma of food was in the air.  Those were carefree times! These past two years I have really approached this day as it is intended- to give thanks to all that I have to be thankful for. 

My sons are always in the forefront of my thoughts

I loved the holdiays being with my three cousins.  As an only child, I was often left wishing I had siblings.  Being with my cousins filled my time.  Perhaps that is why I always wanted a large family of my own.  I enjoy watching my sons, now young men, interacting with each other.  When on the rare occasions all agree and get along it's a beautiufl thing!  There are times, I'm sure, that they probably wish they had the peace and quiet the life of an only child brings. If they could only know how much I would give to have a holiday as they do.  What a dream it is for me to sit at a table with my four sisters and brother and  have my mothers (both of them!),  father, Diana and Steven all together at one time .  I hope as they grow older and wiser they will understand how lucky they are two be part of this group of four brothers. 

My four handsome sons - Nick, Tom, Tony and Jarett

I am particularly sappy and thankful during this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Christmas was always a favorite for me as it a joy for me to decorate the house, bake  and cook for the holidays.  I love making big platters filled with baked goods and enjoy sharing them with family and friends.  I love our Christmas day routine of  the boys opening stockings first while Tony and I cook a big breakfast.  The boys will sort through the pile of gifts under the tree and organize them.  We each will take turns opening our gifts so we can all see what the other has received.  I know this is not how many households will open their presents, but for us it has worked well.  I can truly see the joy on their faces with each gift. Oh, I know  what you are thinking- Christmas is not about gifts alone! It is a holy and important day. I know this too, but  I enjoy the gift giving part. 

Throughout the holidays I will think of my family.  Those near and far.  Those I see often and those I can not.  Those I have not yet met, but so long to do so.  Those who have gone before me and that I miss dearly.  Those I will never have the opportnity to know.

I am thankful for all of you who have taken me into your hearts, and for letting me into yours.  I am so grateful for this large family I have been given!!

I am truly blessed! 

taken the day after Thanksgiving, 2011

Branches Of My Life: Thanksgiving to Christmas.. My Favorite time of y...

Branches Of My Life: Thanksgiving to Christmas.. My Favorite time of y...:   Thanksgiving! It is a holiday I have always adored!Who doesn't enjoy the food, family and time to give thanks to all that is importan...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another milestone comes and goes...As we mark one year of being a family.

My Dad and Me

Heidi, Dad, Teisha and I July 23, 2011

So its Tuesday. I generally dislike Tuesdays.  Its a longer day for me at work and I'm always anxious to get to my day off on Wednesday.  Today was a particularly sad Tuesday for me even though I had the day off because today I had to say goodbye to my family that was visiting me.  Goodbyes have never been easy for me, this was no exception.

Thursday evening, after waiting anxiously like a 5 year old on Christmas Eve, Tony and I were able to welcome my father, Diana, and my sister Heidi into our home.  I've been counting down the months, weeks, days, then hours, then minutes until I would see them!! We haven't been together since October when Tony and I spent those 4 glorious days in Georgia at their home.

Now, to know me is to know that although I am can be happy about a situation, I still cannot shake the negative that is coming.  I promised myself that I would enjoy every minute I had with my sisters, Dad and Diana and not count down the hours til they had to leave.  I was pretty good about it this time too.  I did well until Monday when I knew it was the last day, but I'll save the sappy thoughts for later ! (shocker, lol!)

I have always been thankful for the fact that I entered this family with a feeling of belonging.  It's a fantastically strange feeling to have this kind of ease so early, but I did.  I have always felt an instant connection with them as I did with my mother when I met her.  It was something I did not expect. I'm  not sure if I didn't expect it because it was my father (vs. meeting my mom whom I'd felt in my heart forever) or what, but I'm grateful it is there.

Me and my cousin Patrick
We had an awesome time!  A great party Saturday evening having my Peterson side of the family meet my Gagnon side of the family.  I'm so happy everyone blended so well together!!  We continued to have fun for the rest of my weekend and I soaked up the time I had getting to know more about Heidi and my stepmama ( inside joke) Diana, Also getting more of that quality time with Teisha, Shawn and my Dad.  I wish I could have stopped time or at least slowed it down last saturday night!  We all got on so well that I was floating on cloud nine.   You can see in the pictures how truly happy I was.  I didn't get to spend time with our friends at that party as much as I would have liked, but other than that it was perfect! (I owe you another party dear friends!!) 

Two of the best guys you will ever meet!

Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Leonard

During their visit it was exactly a year that had passed since I met my father last July 22, 2010.  I cannot believe it but its true!  I feel like we have worked hard to catch up the time and the affect of that hard work is showing.  I really can't tell you in words how I feel about the time and effort my father has put into building our relationship.  And that is really what its about.  We both had to make a decision early on what this would be about.  For me it was simple, I would take all he would give.  He has surpassed my expectations as well as have my sisters Teisha and Heidi.  His wife Diana is someone I honestly just look forward to seeing! All of the wives that read this know if it weren't for her support, I wouldn't have as much of my father as I do.

Diana with my father

So, I wasn't going to write today, but i swore when I started this blog I'd write when I could.  Especially after good events.  I've re-read my blog recently and really you do forget some of the emotion!  After reading again, it just makes me more thankful for what I have. Today is a tough one though,which is why I will post this so late.  It hurts my heart to write about saying goodbye.  I now start my countdown again.  Three months until we meet again.

My next agenda is finally seeing my mother.  It has been my experience that I've missed her even more when I'm with him.  Crazy how your heart and mind work.


So, thanks to my Dad for making it all happen, being the great guy that he is.  For driving 17 hours to see me, staying in my crazy boy overrun home. For doing the everyday things with me this weekend that meant more to me than siteseeing and even the casino-- that's saying alot from me! (baseball games,  driving me around and grocery shopping--(oops, i still owe you that money!).  Thanks for making the trip Diana and Heidi.  Teisha and Shawn for thier 3rd trip down (I owe you a few trips too!)  And to many more years of doing the same ordinary things again.       

Teisha and me

Me with Heidi


Tommy and Debbie

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Birthdays, Father's Day, and Anniversaries (Oh My!)

This week in June is special to me.   It starts with my darling husband's birthday, today June 18th.  I always look forward to this day.  I love buying him something special , picking out the perfect card, and spending some peaceful time alone together.

Tomorrow is Father's Day.  A day for years I loved and cherished.  For as long as I can remember  it began with a gift for Daddy.  Maybe it was a picture I colored, a craft we made in girl scouts (with my mom as the leader), or later on a gift i picked out for a hard to buy for man. (hard to buy for because he generally didn't want anything!)  Oh how I dreaded picking something out for him. It was always so difficult to choose!  Now, I'd give anything to have to  hunt for the perfect gift.  Of course then I didn't realize how short our time would be.

The best fathers that I know!
  Me with my Dad 1974, me with my Dad 2010,
Tony and the boys  , my father in law Anton

This year father's day will still be a difficult day for me.  I'm sure it always will be to some extent.  This year I will take solace in the fact that I have a second father to love.  In that joy I've found I will celebrate two fathers.  One who is with me now , and one that will be in my heart forever.  I will try to focus on happy memories of the past and joyful thoughts of my future.

June now holds another meaningful day for me.  It is another anniversary of sorts.  June 23rd marks the day that my life changed forever.  It is added to a bevy of other days holding a special spot in my memories.  It is the day I decided to let go of fear, take a risk, and open my heart once again. June 23rd is eternally marked as the day the final piece of the puzzle that is my life was put into place.  The day I sent the email to my father that changed so many of our lives.

I have to say this year has been full of love and joy.  I have my first nephew and godson from Debbie and Tommy(added to all my other nieces and nephews!!!), have found my father, sisters, brother, and Diana.  It amazes me every time I think of how everything fell into place and how truly blessed I am to have all this love.

I have to thank both of my mothers for allowing this all to happen.  My mother (Irene) was always supportive of my finding my birthparents and family.  My mother (Pat) provided the basis for my wanting to find my father.  It was that first conversation  with her 13 1/2 years ago that gave me such a positive experience and outpouring of love that made the next meeting possible.  I don't think I ever would have contacted my father if she had not welcomed me with open arms.  So, for that oupouring of love that she gave me long ago, I thank her.

So June is full of good things for the men I love.   With luck July with follow with more happiness as my Dad, Diana, Heidi , and Teisha and Shawn come to visit me. We celebrate Andrew's first birthday in July too!  Oh, and did I mention I'm going to be an Auntie again!!?? Life is sweet <3

I dreamt of their faces for years.
Mom (Pat)  and Dad (Brent)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More everyday, ordinary ,joyous moments!

A weekend is coming to an end.  A long weekend at that.  I hate to see it end! It was full of sunshine and happy moments.

Happiness for me is the time I spend with my family. This Memorial day weekend I spent some precious time with my sister in law , brother in law and my darling nephew Andrew.   This weekend also included a long overdue visit with one of my newest sisters, Teisha.  I was lucky to have a few days with her visiting me from her home state of Maine.  I met her husband for the first time and can see why she loves him.  It is apparent that he is truly the love of her life and a pillar of strength for her, as my Tony is for me.

We shared time together doing ordinary things which seem extraordinary in some ways just because i'm sharing them with her! A baseball game watching Jarett hit homerun #3 (yay JT!) , a cookout in my yard, looking at pictures, talking about our father.  A year ago today none of this would have seemed possible!!  She never even knew I was her sister last year.  It's crazy and blows my mind just thinking that.  In 11 months I gained two sisters, one brother, two nephews, four nieces, a sweet southern step mother, and my second father.  Wow!

 I suprised myself this afternoon as my sister went to leave me.  No tears ran down my cheeks, I didn't even choke them back. (If you know me at all this is shocking!) Of course I didn't want to see her go! I'm just as emotional as I always have been, it's my perspective that is slightly skewed now.   I found so much joy in just being with her that I couldn't waste that joy on the sadness of her leaving.  I'm not sure I'm even exspressing my thoughts in words the way I feel them.  I can't think of any other way to write it down.

All day long I waited to call my father.  I had just spoken with him in the morning but I could not wait to speak with him again to share this happiness I felt.  For all the years I waited to find this other family, it was always my dear sisters I was afraid to hurt with the knowledge of me.  It is these two sweet sisters that accepted me without hesitation, just as Jesi and Heather did for me many years ago.  It is amazing for me to have three seperate but now shared loving families!

I guess truly the only sadness of today comes in just the desire to be with those I cannot.  It is the strange side effect of the bliss of being with family that always creeps in at me.  As much as I loved being with Teisha, I can not help but want to have all the rest of those I miss be here with me also.  Teisha and I together both felt the missing link of Heidi and our father.  It was apparent in the conversations we had this weekend that they seemed to revolve the center of our thoughts.

For me, her leaving was did not cause sadness because we are connected.  We have seen each other now and that will hold me for a bit. (along with the hours of phones calls!) It is the sorrow of missing the others that caused the little catch in my throat and puts the tear in my eye as I type this.  The hope of seeing my other sisters and really the need to be with my mother.  Those times too will come, but with me being impatient it is hard to wait.  I suppose when you wait a lifetime, or in reality 24 years or 37 years as I did, its hard to make yourself wait again.

I'm looking forward to the next visit coming, when my father will visit me in July.  Soon, I will see my mother also.  Then, my heart will be full.  Until those days I am thankful for all that I have now and I try to wait patiently. 

If only my Dad could be here while all this happening, that would be the icing on the sweet cupcake!

My sister Teisha and I - May 28, 2011  age 38 and 40

Sunday, April 3, 2011

***~*~*** My 38th Birthday of Firsts ***~*~***

Ahhhh, another year passes by.  It seems they go much faster as there are more birthday candles placed on my cake.  It has been a wonderful year for me in many ways and every holiday and event that has passed since June has been a first for me.

My 38th birthday was a 1st birthday for me too!  My first birthday with two more sisters and a brother.  My first birthday knowing my father.  My first birthday in six years where the sadness of missing my father has not been the overwhelming emotion that I've felt. My first birthday where my family is complete.

This year I received beautiful birthday wishes from people I love dearly.  It is an odd feeling realizing that these very important people were not always in my life.  Odd because I cannot now think of the words "my family" without seeing their faces. 

So, for this year, I chose not to have birthday candles on my cake (and thanks to Tony for the yummy peanut butter  blizzard ice cream cake!) .  I think most of my birthday wishes already came true. They only thing I can wish for is more time with my 4 sisters, brother, mothers, and father.

I have to thank my mother, once again, who I hold in high esteem, for the love and encouragement through this whole journey. I cannot say enough about how much I admire her strength and courage.  For me the year was full of joy, and although it must have been difficult at times for her, she has been nothing but supportive for me.

Here's to being 38!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March- The month so long ago that changed my life forever..A little about my oldest son Tom

Tommy, just a few months old - 1990

March is a busy month for me.  A joyfully busy month!  First I celebrated my mothers 69th birthday!  Oh how I wish my Dad could be here with her.  I'm thankful for each year we recieve with my mother. The boys have been lucky to have their grandmother be such an integral part of their childhood. 

 Next up is my oldest son Tom's birthday.  It is his 21st birthday!  It is a day which when he was small and life was so challenging I thought would never come!  It is a day of happiness and sorrow all mixed in one for me.  Happiness that Tommy and I made our way through life when life was not easy.  That I as a teenaged mother was able to raise a son that is good, honest and thoughtful.  That he -in addition to being my child- has also been a major catalyst in my life.  It was he who drove me as an 18 year old mom to do well in college and succeed. It was Tommy who first showed me  a mother loves her child more than she expects and she can explain to her child.  It was Tommy who taught his mother so many lessons, as I hope I have now passed on to him.

2010 Tom age 20, me age 37

So, as his 21st birthday approaches next wednesday March 9th, I will remember the first time I held him.  He and I are just 3 weeks shy of being 17 years apart.  That day I first saw my son my teenage years may have been over, but truly my life had just begun.  It was not a road paved of gold that lay ahead, but mixed with bumps and turns and twists.  It was Tom and I growing up together in some ways.  It was difficult, challenging but at the same time rewarding and life altering.  I thank him for that gift that he gave me.

When life was challenging I dreamed of the days when my duties as a mom would diminish.  When days were hard trying to be mommy, wife, daughter, student, employee, and friend, I would think of the days when things would be easier.  Truthfully, things are easier when our children reach adulthood in the some ways.  We no longer have to worry about simple daily  chores such as homework, bathtime, etc.  But I can tell you the worry  never ends!  You still want the best for your child, even when your child is an adult.  The hopes, dreams and fears stay with a mother forever.

Tommy is my first great blessing.  Luckily for me,  some years later I would be additionally blessed with my husband and 3 more sons.  My husband has been a second father for Tom.  He has been there to do all the hard work with me.  To set rules and boundaries and enforce them.  He has been with Tommy since Tommy was 3 years old.  If you ask Tom, I'm sure he cannot remember a time before Tony came into our lives.  We were lucky to find him.  I know this always.

age 6 months
So , this birthday will be bitter sweet to me.  I'm proud of my son.  I can not believe he is 21 years old this month.  It is surreal to me!  I think of myself at his age and our lives could not be more different.  I can honestly tell you the years have gone by far too quickly.  I remember every adult telling me how fast time would fly. You don't believe it until it happens to you.

I am so thankful for my mother and father who did everything they could financially and emotionally for myself and Tom.  If it were not for them and for my dear Aunt Carolyn helping me to take care of Tommy, I would have never made it through college.  I was so lucky to have such a caring family help me to take care of Tom while I was in school or work.   Not just Tom, but my other sons later on also!

Happy 21st Birthday to Tom!! Mom loves you!!

Tommy and I at his high school graduation
Tommy age 19, me age 36 June 2009

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Its been a long update of my growing family

Well, my blogging effort has not been up to par of late.  With the holidays and the business of being with family and loved ones- well it hasn't been my top priority. 

Life is streaming along-  well I should say skating along- with all of this winter weather that we are getting here in CT.  Its been many days at home with the kids out of school and nowork for me.  I am actually craving my normal routine!

Last night I was lying in bed thinking of these last few months.  My family has evolved in so many way.  My father is an integral part of my life.  We speak once every week or so, and of course there are emails and facebook posts.  But beyond how often I talk with him its really how much he occupies my life in my thoughts, memories and daydreams.  I'm so thrilled to have him!  I drifted off to sleep thinking of how lucky I am.  To essentially have THREE families (my favorite number, so off topic I know!) to love and be loved by!  Wow, really- wow!  My last thoughts last night, as I had a fantastic and peaceful nights sleep like i haven't in so long, were that I have these three wonderful and different facets in my life.  God, I feel so lucky. 

I spent so many moments in the early days of meeting my father trying to nit pick the resemblances.  Do I have his eyes- YES!  Do I think I have his nose-  I think so!  Now I think of the other similarities, things you can't see.  We have common traits.  I find myself thinking of him and smiling.  I like being a little bit OF him. I love it actually!  Of course the same is true for my sisters.  As in the early days of meeting Jesi and Heather with my Mom- it can be truly amazing to see natural traits show in siblings who have never  met before.  It does not get past me that my sister is a dental hygienist like me.  That we graduated in the same year.  That all of my sisters, except one, were teen moms like me. Oh, there are so many others I could mention! Is this just a coincidence?? I just cant believe that it is.

On another note.  I'm thinking of my impending jaunt to Northern Maine to see my mom Pat.  I haven't seen in her in close to four years.  Every time I think of this trip my heart beats a little quicker.  She is one of the most important people in my world and its been too long.  Really- this bond between us is something special -even beyond mother and daughter.  Its something that makes my relationship with her different than maybe even her relationships with my sisters. I'm not saying she loves me more or less.  (of course its more! hahaha)  I'm saying she loves me with a different kind of love.  For me, with her, its the same.  We share more than a parent and child bond.  She is my mother, but she is also in my eyes my protector, my living guardian angel of sorts.  She forever is my hero. 

I have tried for many years to imagine the days and months my mother had with me before I was born.  I have tried to put myself in those shoes she walked in.  It wasn't hard to picture.  I had my first son at almost 17- so close in age to what  my mom was when she had me .  I've tried to imagine her strength.  I admire my mother because I know she sacrificed herself for me.  Isn't that what we as parents always say we would do?  Give ourselves, our own lives, for our children?  As a child we hear our parents say these things.  I didn't hear it from her.  I LIVED it from her. My only wish was that she could have known in all the years that we were apart, that I loved her.  That I always knew she loved me unconditionally.  For that she can thank my parents. 

I'm off track.  What I was really thinking of last night was that since I met my father, I feel closer to my mother.  I can see the two halves of me now.  I am more complete than I was before.  I drifted off to bed last night smiling.  Truly happy for the turn of events that began last June.  As a woman of almost 38 <> its amazing how much you need your parents. 

Good thing I have two sets of them!

Me at age 3- I guess there is always a little person in us when dealing with our parents!