Week 2 I Think: I Can’t Count

Mental Breakdown or Beautiful Masterpiece?

Maybe, just maybe I have finally lost it. What’s that picture you see? Oh, that’s my bedroom wall that has sat, white for far too long. As I spent today with the girls I started to rearrange and clean out old clothes from my room. The girls continued to play upstairs with me, bouncing from room to room, destroying everything in their tiny little tornado path. I don’t understand how someone so cute and tiny can cause mass destruction in a small amount of time but let me assure you, these littles can do it. I wondered how much velcro walls were so I googled, just out of curiosity for you know, research purposes. Unfortunately Amazon does not have my back on the idea, it’d help keep them still for long enough to clean up the mess they left behind. I sat on my bed, staring at the wall for what seemed like forever. Suddenly an idea popped into my head, a flash back from when I was a kid. My parents had this ugly wallpaper in their bedroom and one time my dad told us we could use marker to fill in the design. It was the only walls we could color on and it kept us occupied for what felt like years. I told the girls to come into my room and sit. Maisyn laughed in my face because she thinks everything is funny, Paityn refused because she had to pee(potty training with that child has been so very successful, mostly because the child refuses to leave the potty seat) and Gracelyn actually listened(I’m blogging this to document it). As soon as I said the word “paint” my children were full attention absorbing every word I said. They sat still and focused on me. I asked them if they’d like to paint my wall behind them. Imagine children running free, through the Wonka Candy stores with unlimited access to anything their hearts desired. That my friends, is the reaction my children gave me. I’m not sure they’ve been that excited before and to quote the oldest “Mom I’m freaking out”, in fact she was freaking out. I laughed and showed them the paints. I let them each pick out their colors before they each started on the wall. I told each girl to stick to their areas to avoid the ultimately bound to happen fight club fight, with paint this time. I sat on my bed and watched in amazement as my girls created a masterpiece of their own imagination. The painted flowers, random lines, hearts, anything their little minds thought of. In that moment I had the perfect opportunity to clean and organize what they had destroyed but I couldn’t move. I was in love with watching my daughters cover my wall with paint. Something so simple that now means the world to me. It’s perfect, every little hand print and color smear. They laughed and shared, they listened and there was only a little bit of a mess to clean up. I don’t want to say it was magical but it made my days off great. It made my Mothers Day weekend off just what I needed.

Deployment Week ?!

It’s been a few weeks of us adjusting to us four, I’d like to tell you it’s going good but that’d be a big Texas sized lie. It’s been rough, mostly because the pint sized people aren’t sleeping well. Gracelyn has co-slept since she was born, it’s a decision proving to be kicking myself in the backside. She refuses and I mean capital letter, exclamation point REFUSES to sleep in her room no matter what I try. She’s slept in between us her whole life and now the right side of her is empty. She woke up crying the other night because “the monsters on that side are going to get me cuz daddys not here to stop them from coming over the side of the bed”, so to get that child to sleep I had to lay on her. She’s not understanding why he’s not home and we have a long way to go before he comes home. I know give it time and adjustments will be made but this is rough. Day by day we are getting there. She now goes to her room for a bit but still ends up back in my bed. Keeping them occupied has helped the best but it hasn’t for my bank account, I want to spoil them and keep them as happy as possible. We live in the country so they have a few acres to run on and play on their toys. They have a dune buggy, four wheeler and soon to be another toy(it’s a surprise though) that they ride all over. The freedom of being outside and this cabin fever is hitting us all. Covid locking us down has also effected the children, they love shopping and going places and now they can’t. Guess who also doesn’t understand why they can’t? You guessed it, the same children who’s routine and lives have already been changed recently. They have no normal currently. Baby steps we are getting there, right?

Wild Child, My Heart

Let kids be kids, let them run free and wild. I’ve documented everything we do with the girls to save for them and Nick to see. The photos I’m sharing are just another typical day we went outside but as you can see my yard needed mowed and it was overran with dandelion flowers. It amazed me to see how many there were and to see the girls blowing on them announcing their wishes out loud. I’m going to take a good guess you expect me to say they wished for their daddy, right? Big negative, they wished for a mermaid, kitties, skittles, popsicles, a truck to drive(that might be the surprise coming), a rainbow party, Papa to come over and drive the tractor and last but not least Gracelyn wished for a vacation to see dolphins like mommy did. Girl I’m right there with ya wishing for that! I photographed them throughout us being outside and I was in awe of how grown up they are. They are a year and a half apart, the twins will be 3 next month and G will be 5 this year. I blinked and now my daughters are almost completely out of diapers, they hold conversations with you and have the funniest personalities. Parenthood is a time machine, in fast speed and there’s no button to slow time down. For 1,055 days I’ve been a mom to twins and for 1,637 days I’ve been a mom in general, to a mini version of myself. Today I said multiple times how it was like I’m her big sister when I argue with her but the twins I’m mom mode. She knows how I am but she fails to realize I have experience on her.

COVID- You bastard.

We will get better slowly but surely. Life has been chaos for everyone lately, especially with most businesses still shut down. I keep talking to the big man upstairs about my anxiety and how everything will be okay. I have faith that someday soon things will get smooth but for now buckle up buttercup because a certain fat man in charge is taking us for a ride on a bumpy road. I know how bad my mental health has been since COVID started, I can only imagine how bad it is for small business owners that are deemed “non essential”. Like my hair stylist for example, she has a small business that is used to keep her family afloat and provide for her child. That’s essential to me and my mental health along with essential to provide for her family. I need my therapy session in that chair while she listens to my life problems and takes care of these roots. Who is deciding who is considered essential or not? I could also say my tattoo artist is essential at this point because I’m a weird person who relaxes while getting a tattoo(I’ve had to reschedule my appointment twice now due to COVID) and that is his source of income. He’s a business owner meaning he has employees that are suffering too because they aren’t considered “essential”. I get the reasoning but I disagree at this point. I’m being selfish and thinking about my mental health and what would help it along with helping those small businesses, that have helped me time and time again.

I’ve rambled on for tonight, I have Paityn asleep in my bed next to me and for now the G-Baby is asleep in her own room. Maisyn is a champ snoring away in her crib. I enjoyed my few days off but they are never long enough, makes me second guess and wonder if I’m making the right decision. I know I am but it’s just tough. They need me but so does my career choice and I love my job, I just miss my girls a lot. Sigh, another day closer to a few days off.

Love,

Candyce

p.s- Here’s a picture of my lugghead boy, Sarge.

Deployment Eve/Day 1.

They say a pictures worth a thousand words, right? What about emotions? Seeing this picture, knowing what happened just prior, is something that breaks my heart. The last night Nick was home I decided to capture those memories for our girls, for when they get older. I followed them around with my camera as they did the routine of things. This picture was taken a minute after we put the girls to bed. It was the last time he would see his daughters this year. It was the last time he’d hear “I love you Daddy” followed by the sweetest kisses from three little blonde girls. It was the last time he’d squeeze them in a big bear hug and it was the last time he would get to see his daughters as is, before they grow and change while he’s gone. Immediately after putting the twins to bed, he went into our bathroom and partially shut the door. As I followed him I knew the familiar sound coming from the bathroom. It was the sound of a father crumbling with emotions, the sniffles and blotted eyes. It was the moment reality had set in for him, he realized the sacrifices he made at 18 when he enlisted. He sat in there for a few minutes before he walked out and took a shower. I decided to upload the photos I had taken of the night, proceeded to cry again(let’s face it, I’ve been an emotional roller coaster lately) because these photos captured so much to me. The photos show the happiness on our daughters faces, the chaos of trying to contain each strong willed child, and it shows how much each child loves their daddy.

The night went as normal, bath, book then bed. Paityn wasn’t ready to say bye to her daddy, she woke up and decided to sleep in our bed most of the night. I think that extra little bit of time was needed. She snuggled into him, grabbed his face to give him a kiss and reminded him repeatedly “I love you daddy”. We were able to get an hour or two of sleep before we had to be up to head to the airport. My mom came over to watch the girls so we didn’t have to drag them out so early. As we were getting ready, our oldest woke up and came downstairs. She hugged her daddy and told him to be safe from the bad guys. She told him she would be good for mommy and that she wanted him to not forget her. I was three foot from them in a different room, hearing my four year old explain that to her dad was like a kick to the throat. She clearly understood what we said when we told her he was leaving. She remembered what country he was going to and that he would be gone for long time. She started to tear up and whine a little, as she sat on her dads lap while he tied his boots. I can’t help but think, will she remember that moment? Will she remember what’s happening when she’s older? What if that is one of the first memories she has? I pulled myself together because it was time to drive a long drive to drop him off.

He hugged my mom, if you think I’m emotional you need to meet my mother. Apple didn’t fall far from the tree but she takes the cake. Seeing how emotional my mom was, hit Nick again and the sniffles started as we left. The drive to the airport was filled with my indecisive music selection, the sniffles, small talk over bills and things to keep track of and what to expect the next few weeks. This is Nicks second tour, he knows what to expect but this is his first with a family. As we pulled into the parking lot I could immediately see a truck with two American Flags flying in the bed, I could see families surrounding their loved one dressed in the camo. I had a vision in my head what it’d be like and let me tell you it’s nothing like the movies. I saw a dad chase his child, who might have been 1 while his older child was running next to him. I saw a husband hug his wife as she broke down fearful of the unknown. I saw a large family come together to see two of their own leave. There is another local family to us that are also on this deployment with us, the Adams family. I cried knowing Tim was going to miss his daughters first birthday. He’s going to miss a lot of her milestones. Why? Because he wants to defend others freedom, he’s a soldier. He and his wife, Maddy, have two children that now are going through what we are going through. It’s going to be nice to have someone close that knows exactly what I’m going through and to lean on each other. It’s also reassuring knowing who will be over there with Nick. At the military Christmas party I met a few of them and one that stuck out was Luke aka Boom(no surprisingly enough I didn’t give him that nickname). He’s one of those funny, good guys that will keep Nick from being a grump butt the whole time. He’s a positive enforcement especially at a time like this. He gave me a big hug today and reassured me everything will be alright, he’d make sure of it. Yes, you guessed it, I cried again. Pretty sure he told me to get it together(he’s not wrong though). I didn’t cry so much for my own family today but for the other families I saw today standing there going through the same emotions we were. I didn’t know who they were, their names, I knew nothing about them but what I did know is we can relate more than anyone and we are a big family overall. Due to COVID(once again I have a few bad words to say about that crock of crap that needs to go away), we weren’t able to walk in with the soldiers or watch them leave. I watched Nick and Boom walk inside, I watched the other families get into their vehicles. The woman in the car next to me put her head down on her steering wheel while playing “Come Home Soon” by SheDaisy(yeah girl I was singing with you on that one). I wanted to hug her or tell her it’s going to be okay but couldn’t. After leaving the airport I needed to stop at Walmart. I kind of just wandered around before remembering why I was there. Nick had text me to tell me they were flying out to *insert location here* where they will be headed before going to the other country. I bought the final stuff for our “Deployment Wall”.

I ended my shopping trip and ventured home. When I say I ventured I really mean I ended up lost to the point GPS was telling me they couldn’t help me. Whoopsie… I was able to drive and listen to music, enjoy the moments to myself I had left. I came across a town I knew and was able to find my way home. I will tell you now that having an amazing support system has made this completely better. My cousin Chelsea, came down to be with me so I wouldn’t be alone. She knew I needed someone without having to ask. She and my amazing coworker Megan were planning on surprising me but Megan ended up working for me allowing me to have today off instead. I don’t know what I did to deserve such amazing people in my life like them, but I thank God everyday for them. Chelsea stayed for hours to hangout with my children, allowing me to take a relaxing bath and take a nap(between lack of sleep and crying I have had a migraine all day), she didn’t second guess letting me get some “me” time or sleep. She’s always had my back and I will forever be glad to have her as my best friend. Once she finally thought it was okay for her to leave, I cleared out the girls old toys(I’m getting rid of 10 bags of toys in the last two day, I promise they still have toys, they’re overly spoiled). I deep cleaned. I went through my clothes, we made bracelets, we started the deployment wall. We did it, we survived day 1. It doesn’t seem like it’s that tough to make it through the first day but I promise, Nick having to walk away from his way home but instead into an airport with none of his girls was tough. Leaving him there and having to answer “where’s my daddy? when’s my daddy coming home? I want my daddy” over and over is tough. I put the twins to bed tonight and they refused to sleep, they quietly singing their ABCs. Gracelyn is asleep in her bed and I’m sitting by the top of the stairs listening to the twins sing. I took a bath, ate a pizza to myself(that’s right, ya girl can put some food away) and the silence quickly took over so I decided to sit here and blog as I listen to them sing. I hate quiet, that leads to overthinking and anxiety and both I need no assistance in. Sarge is snoring at the bottom of the stairs, the cats are laying on the stairs just below me and Zeus is asleep in my bed. I’m not sure what day 2 will consist of but I do know that I’m so thankful for the support we’ve received and the love that’s been sent. It’s motivation to keep going. I will be adding all of the photos from Deployment Eve below.

Love,

Candyce

Family.

A few of the River Rat kids before Cross Dress day at school. Yours truly standing in the front.

When I was younger, I didn’t realize what “family” meant. I thought everyone was family, whether they were the neighbor or the old guy that lived across town that handed out toothbrushes for Halloween. London Mills kids, you know EXACTLY who I’m talking about. Even though we really didn’t know each other, we were family. Why did I think this? Because growing up in a small town and community, you come in contact with the same people over and over as the years ago by, you learn their lives and who they are as people. The same group of kids I grew up with continued to be friends for years, we fought often like siblings but at the end of the day we all made up. We didn’t have electronics to keep us occupied, we had outside. We had basketball at the park, the swings we used to not use correctly but instead sat on top of them listening to the lovely Backstreet Boys. We made up dances to the different songs and life was so stress free. Instead of our parents calling a phone for us to come home, we watched the streetlights and if we weren’t home by the time they came on, we could hear my mom yell for us from the front porch. Many nights we spent stargazing while laying in the roadway, not fearful of being ran over because let’s face it, traffic in town happens two weekends a year. Life was good, it was simple and we were family. We spent more time at our friends houses than our own. My mom cooked for an army not knowing which neighborhood kids were coming to eat, but she made sure we were all fed. The neighbors, whom I have known since ’94 have treated me like a daughter and been there for me without missing a beat since even though I’m grown now. As I laid in the hospital bed after having heart surgery and a stroke, I received a gift from those same “block parents” as my parents refer to them as. Why did they do that? Because we are family. Family isn’t just blood, it’s a group of people who love each other and care about each others well being. It’s seeing the best in someone when they haven’t had the best days. We as a community are a family.

My “block parents” daughter and I, best friends from the day I met her.

Fulton County Proud

One of the first memories I have is of a benefit, held in London Mills for a person fighting cancer. I remember seeing so many people, as a child I thought it was the coolest thing but didn’t understand the circumstances that brought everyone together. That benefit raised a lot of money for that person and they were able to have assistance while they recovered. As I got older, I witness many more countless acts of the community coming together for one of their own. Many places in this country don’t come together to rally around their own but we do, because we are family. In the mid 2000’s, I’m going to say roughly 2005-2006 London Mills had a massive storm that caused major damage to the town. I remember the night the storms happened, it felt like the movie “Twister”, there were firetrucks and people everywhere outside. I was terrified of storms, my neighbors came to our house and we sat in my basement stairwell singing “There’s a hole in the World” by the Eagles. My mom stood in the kitchen making Chinese donuts for us to keep us calm because quite frankly a few of us were a mess. My dad has always told me if I see him worry then I can worry otherwise it will all be alright. After the first storm came through, there were trees down everywhere and we had no power. The town came together to start to clean the debris up as we heard another storm was almost there. Surely enough a second storm came through and we continued to stuff our faces with donuts and sing at the top of our lungs(still to this day that’s a coping mechanism for me so if you see me singing Mind ya business). The sun was coming up and the towns people came together and got to cleaning. There were a few houses that trees came into or trapped a few places. I remember seeing our fire chief directing the towns men on where we should start and work together. Everyone pitched in and the town became home again. I could also go into details when the town flooded in 2013 and it was the first time in my life we have had to evacuate. My brothers house was along the river and was a total loss. Multiple homes were unlivable for some time and it took a while for many to recover. We came together and together we got through it. It’s forever etched into my mind and has influenced me into the kind of person I aim to be.

Aerial photo taken from above London Mills flooding early 2013. My brothers house is the house on the far left middle of the photo. We bent but we didn’t break.

If you’re local to me and you’re reading this, I feel confident you have many other stories you can share about times the community has come together as one. As we currently face the pandemic of the COVID-19, I feel positive we will get through this together if we continue to work together. This isn’t a one person effort but must be a team effort to get us back to where we belong. It’s a terrifying feeling to not know what the future holds but knowing WE can help decide that if we work together is something positive. I work an essential job and a wonderful person brought in masks for those who need them. They were homemade, stitched together with every intention of a good heart. I do not know the person who created them but they thought of the community and the communities best interest. I’m sure most of you social media peeps have seen the Facebook page “Heart Hunters”. It’s a page for people to post pictures of different hearts that have been displayed in windows for others to see. Something so simple yet something to remind us all that we are not alone in this, we can do it together. It gives me hope that I’m raising my daughters in a community that has changed since I was a child yet remained the same, dedicated to helping each other. Everyone’s lives have been effected by this virus somehow. When Nick and I were house hunting(okay truth be told I was house hunting, he was clueless. He was away with the military training with no phone and when he got his phone back I informed him we had bought a house, surprise honey!), I wanted to live in the same school district I went to. I wasn’t a good student to say the least, I think I might hold the record for most missed days in a single school year, yet I passed. I can only imagine how good of a student I would have been if school started at noon. I went to the same school my whole life, so i knew the faculty pretty well. They called me out on my bulls**t, they held me accountable for my actions and while it might have made me upset then I’m incredibly happy they did it. It was a place I want my children to attend because I know they are in good hands that I trust, my daughters will be given the love and care I received and they will be pushed to the best of their ability. Recently they have had to go to online learning due to the COVID-19, every day Gracelyns teacher reaches out with new information, an online video of her reading to the kids or something to keep positive. Her teacher cares about her students and continues to give them the information they need at home to learn. The older students are doing facetime learning and the teachers are doing whatever they can, researching new ways to get the students learning materials, they want the students to succeed. Why have they gone so far to make sure the students are taken care of? Because we are family.

Class of 2010. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated.

One Day At A Time

I’m a social person so social distancing is a struggle for me. I keep telling myself that if I think of 30 more days of distancing it seems like forever away, but if I take it day by day it goes smoother. I’m sure others are also struggling with this, whether it’s the gym, salon(IGNORE MY ROOTS OKAY, MY STYLIST WOULD HUNT ME DOWN IF I USED BOX DYE) or something else, we can get through this. I try my best to stay positive so I have to think something good is coming, after a storm there’s usually a rainbow. Maybe the positive is us coming together to get through this, maybe it’s a lesson for us all to work together. Maybe it’s a lesson to show us how to be kind to others, to help when possible, however possible. One day at a time family, we can do this. I’m proud of my community and “family”.

Love,

Candyce