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Colonial Williamsburg

Vacation catch up post:

Saturday saw us rising early for an adventure I remember from my stay here in 2003
and could not wait to share with my children.
We headed down to Colonial Williamsburg

It’s a big trip because it is so close to so many other things you will want to see, sadly we didn’t have the energy or the time to see it all in one day. But, nearby you have Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Battlefield

(We did get to see the battlefield and cemetery and I will put that all up in another post!)

There are two parts to Williamsburg, one is modern and the other is the Colonial area. You can wander both for free. To get into certain attractions, however, in the Colonial area you need to buy a day pass. (See the website for instructions)

We started the day with an amazing lunch in the modern area.

After lunch we just wandered around and it was well worth it!

We then had to move moms car from the temporary parking to the longterm parking structure, oops!

We had fun waiting on her.

We also discovered some of the houses are actually still privately owned.

Some stores or part of the day pass and others are not. There is an open air market! Although things are rather expensive. So we got the kids out of there fast.

We walked almost five miles in total around the whole area and still did not see all the areas and homes and stores. One of my favorite memories of the day was getting out of the car to hear this….

We also reaffirmed that our mother is a hippie. She is giving the tree a hug because it needs love.

The dude climbs trees he finds.

There is an amazing church and graveyard to explore that the kids actually enjoyed, and you don’t need the pass to see. They have volunteer guides who tell you about what you would have expected if you had attended church at the time.

I was surprised to learn that women and men, as well as children, were separated. The names on the end of the pews meant nothing. The guide told us the men were just in town enough that they would have attended church as it was required, as in you broke the law if you did not show up, and everyone paid tax to the church.

That big comfy chair you see is for the governor, the most important man. It was all based on class, where you sat.

It seems to still be a church people attend. We found the offices.

It is such an interesting area because not only do you have the history of the Revolution but also the Civil War.

Here we have two Civil War men who found themselves buried in the ‘colonial’ churchyard next to Americans who might have fought the British.

Sobering to think about.

The next big attraction is the jail where Blackbeards crew was kept and hung.

It has been restored and the kids sure got a kick out of it.

Mom decided she was kept there in a past life, we humoured her.

I think she just wanted some time to sit down, we did do a LOT of walking.

Side note for historical reference:

It isn’t clear in the jail but when I did some research it was to discover that Blackbeard never made it to the prison where his men died. He was beheaded months earlier. Here is a fun link to read and walk in the footsteps of Blackbeard’s crew

The sheer history of the place is overwhelming. The joy of seeing people walking around in period clothes, the horse carriages, the cannons going off. Plus, it is just a beautiful spot.

If you are in Virginia. You can’t pass up a day there. It is worth the blisters on your feet and braving the humidity and heat if you come in the summer. It is just a place you can’t find anywhere else.

You can also pack your own snacks and picnic lunch to cut down on costs. It is certainly a must see family destination.

Our trip ended in true Red Family style. With a song and a dance.

He played the song for the kids who all gave him a dollar. I think they thought he was a live juke box.

Also, the kids got ice cream.

We have no idea what this is, but he loved it.

Now mint chocolate chip I can get behind!

But, even better than ice cream for me was all the baby snuggles I got.

The last tradition was grabbing a Christmas ornament to remember our trip!

Lucky us there was a Christmas shop!

Thank you Willamsburg for the amazing memories and beautiful history you are preserving.

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Curly to straight.

Confession time:

When I have a big appointment, or surgery, hospital stay, or event.

I sometimes blow out my hair.

Why? Cause it soothes me to brush it and gosh darrnit I feel pretty.

So here is my routine:

First put on some tunes then use the low setting to get out most of the moisture.

My tools are round brushes, clips, Witch I Love Your Hair, righteous roots on my scalp, and a protective smoother. I tried the shea one this time. All but the first two products (which I buy off their sites on Instagram) were purchased at Target. Including my blow dryer with a diffuser. (Not pictured)

Once you section off your hair with clips apply products and use the round brush of choice. I like the larger one on my longer layers and the smaller one for the rest. Blow dryer is on HOT here.

It takes about thirty minutes and ends up looking like this.

I like to blow dry the night before. I also always brush it out on the cool setting before I put I put it up for the night.

Next Day:

Here it is right after I woke up. 😂😋😂

So, this takes a half hour to take. Section it off, use the metal round brush after spraying my Witch magic and the smoothing cream. Set the blow dryer to hot.

The last part is where I have some fun.

Ringlets!!!! Ten seconds a curl and once I am finished with all layers I brush it all out.

Done 🤩

I leave it for 3 to 5 days touching it up as needed. It is never totally straight. It’s always round brushed and curled as needed. I apply my witch spray and straightening creame.

There you go. My cheating on my curls step by step guide.

Don’t worry though. The curls came back as soon I washed my hair.

Day 4 curls here. Not too shabby.

Cheers

Cjean

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Mamma Mia

CATCHING UP ON VACA POSTS

We had to fit in some down time for everyone in between the major events. Everyone, including my mother, just can’t go, go, go, like we would want.

So, as a special treat, I decided to take the kids to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

I somehow bought us tickets for a theatre in Suffolk! It was 45 min away, with traffic. But, it was the most beautiful drive. When you went over this bridge before the tunnel, even the kids got excited. I have to admit, I had no idea there were so many tunnels in Virginia.

We had snacks and were ready to go!

We made it early and got our seats and were super excited!

If you can get a real smile out of him

The kids didn’t really understand why mommy cried through 90% of the movie but, I promise, tears and all, it is worth seeing if you haven’t yet.

The production is stunning, the script was well done, the acting is superb, Lily can really sing. But, Cher!!!!

It was a late night, and a little nervewracking to know I was driving home in the dark.

But, the kids didn’t seem to mind.

Getting them in the house and ready for bed was interesting.

Oh, and my little girl still knows all the words to Super Trouper!

2013 was the year she watched Mamma Mia every day.

It was so fun to see this movie with her five years later, and yes, she is asking to go see it again.

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First day spoonie style.

We were late. Not because of my kids, we were an hour late because mommy was sick. Very, very sick. It was a hard night and I remember thinking the day couldn’t be worse. I. Was. So. Wrong.

However, we did make it.

Lenna was so excited. I cringed though when she walked in the 3rd grade class and some little boy said ‘she is huge!’ As per usual they are both the tallest kids in the class.

The many faces of Jude dude. He is the shy one; so this was a big deal. They no longer have recess together either. I’m hoping as the week continues he will look less like I am about to sacrifice him and more like a happy 1st grader.

As for me? I spent my afternoon where everybody knows my name- my doctors office.

Another shot of steroids and some pain meds after an hour of no luck finding IV accss.

Tired and should be in bed.

Cheers

Cjean

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The War …..

Just when I was hoping to lose weight for my 20 year reunion in October. I will instead. Be wowing them with this massive belly!

\ngri

It has been a TOUGH ten days with bronchitis.

He snuck in a full shot.

I wanted to give you a compare and contrast to when I am not inflamed and when I am.

Of course I was up and active hours later so it came back….

Tonight’s swelling might be competing.

This pic was take tonight. Where a ER doc didn’t wish to give me any treatment for pain. Yes, this is painfuld

Yea, yes it is.

Now for the real OMG a out this disease one in six wome suffer from. Here are some shots where you can guess pregnant or if it’s a endo belly?

*sidebar…. I miss this sweater**

This one is tricky. Is that endo bloat or a baby? The truth is all of them could be either.

The answer is I was pregnant in all three. Although, I was only a few weeks along in the first one and was put on bed rest at once as to not compromise the pregnancy or my only ovary. (Riddled in cyst from fertility drugs)

The last two are almost exactly the same weeks. On one I am just swelling more due to my activity level. Bed rest ended at 20 weeks with my daughter. Lihjy activity but no bed. The second time around was strict fjlln

It was a tough road. So on tough days I remind myself that although this journey with endo is hard. I st least for two murders.

My endo journey is clearly not over. I won a major battle: I got my babies.

Now to get Oregon State to start a open a pelvic pain clinic.

And to maybe listen to my husband and write a book about all I have learned 12 years of fighting this disease

Cheees

Cjean

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To my children…

To my kiddos,
I know you have to put up with situations most kids never see; like their mommy having a coughing fit and almost passing out at your peditrition office.
Did you panic? No, Lenna told them mommy had Lupus and a cold and was calm and collected as I was wheeled to the ER where I was promptly sent back to a room for a breathing treatment and fluids. All you two asked for was snacks and now you are patiently waiting for Daddy to come and get you. Jude watching Cars while Lenna is on her tablet.

I know this isn’t what you wanted to do after your dental appointments today but you never complain. You two just go with the flow and are grateful for crackers and peanut butter.

I wish you didn’t have to see your mommy so sick. I wish you never had to spend hours in an ER. I wish you didn’t know auto immune diseases by heart to tell a doctor that mommy has. I wish you didn’t know to tell them mommy had bad veins and low blood pressure. I’m glad you think watching me get an IV by ultra sound is so cool. I love that you think this is a fun adventure.

I am so proud of you. So thankful for you. So amazed by you both. So lucky to be your mom.

So, thank you for being the amazing kids you are.

Flash back photo 2014

AGES: 4 and 2

I LOVE YOU
Mom

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No, this is not okay …

I have had this on my mind for some time and feel like it is finally time to put words to paper.
Warning:
Spoonie rant ahead.
(Spoonie: Chronically ill person.)

Living with chronic pain and illness is hard. It’s a type of hard I am not sure I can even describe.

You always feel guilty for being sick.

You always hate cancelling plans.

You know the ER nurses better than the lady next door.

People, even family members, call you crazy and attention seeking, even when presented with undeniable proof of your illness over your lifetime.

Some people just can’t deal that you will never be ‘healthy’; they can’t understand that there is no cure for autoimmune diseases. So, they can’t deal with your ‘health drama’ and sometimes just leave. The nice ones at least explain they can’t deal. I get it. I have days where I want to check out too.

Plus I have an invisible illness. I look great and healthy and fine. But, I am not great. Pretty doesn’t equal healthy. A smile can hide so much.

Pain is constant. It never goes away. It is always a battle I am fighting in my head with my body, because my pain is invisible, like my illness.

Then there are the well-meaning but rather cruel things people say to me.

You just need to pray and give it to God.
Prayer can’t heal me, and God isn’t punishing me, and no, I don’t just need to pray more. Faith that God will get me to the right doctor is what we pray for. Insinuating that I am not spiritual enough and that’s why I am sick is despicable. I live from prayer to prayer. The miracles he provided are diagnoses and finding things before they could kill me. My cancer was found in stage 0-1 and my heart surgery was needed after a routine echo showed a clotted port. Those are my miracles, and I am so grateful for them.

You are always smiling, you must be feeling better.
Yes, I smile even though this is a crap sandwich. It hurts less to laugh than to cry, and I am all about less pain. Me smiling has no direct correlation to how good or bad I feel. I laugh and joke because if I didn’t I couldn’t do this. My sense of humor is my defense against this road I have to travel.

It’s just a bad day don’t complain so much and stop worrying.
I. Have. Bad. Days. Bad spiritual days. Bad mental days. Bad flare days. Bad pain days. They happen, and I have to just push through. But, my bad days can end with me in the hospital. So, if I am saying my day is bad, it’s not just me complaining, it’s me saying: This could not end well. I am worried. It’s not an everyday thing. Bad to me is a day I end up in the ER. Being in the ER had lead to hospitalizations. Those are so hard on my church family and especially my children.

Why don’t you work?
I do. I see doctors all week long. I schedule procedures, appointments, deal with insurance, take care of two kids, try to keep up with laundry and dishes. Sometimes, I am just excited I am able to get my kids to school on time. If I take a shower and make all my appointments, I am super happy. Becuase, living in pain makes everything harder, even getting showered, dressed, eating, and out the door. I also get sick, a lot. My immune system is crap. Any little cold the kids or husband have for a few days can leave me sick for weeks. And, no matter how sick I get I have to keep getting the kids to school, reschedule procedures, see more doctors, try to keep my house clean. All with my constant pain on the side like a wicked Lego you always find to step on no matter how many times you pick up the set. There are a lot of balls in the air with my health. Not all of them related. Keeping up with it all is exhausting.

You need to sleep more/better.
Sleep? Ha! If someone stabbed you could you sleep through that? Yeah, I do not get good solid hours of sleep. I flop around like a fish. That is what living in chronic pain means, you can’t get a good night sleep. Yes, meds help but the US FDA is taking those options away from people like me and NO I cant smoke weed, use the oil, or the cream. We tried. I vomited, my abdomen broke out in hives, my mouth was left in blisters. So, no, that is not an option and yes we try every option we can but in the end, I will ways need controlled medications.

You just need to not think so much about your illness. Live your life.
My. Life. Is. My. Illness. Every choice I make, from what I put in my mouth to eat, to what I wear, is dictated by my disease. As awful as it was to hear, my husband was right when he told me that we orbit around my illness. I have to do everything I can to not end up flaring my Lupus or Endo, and when I do flare it, I have to do everything I can to survive so he can still get to work and the kids still get to school. I just ate chips on a plane and am now worried it will flare my IC so I am drinking water to avoid a flare. Do you see a pattern? I always have to listen to my body and I don’t just get to do whatever I want. I walk too much one day, and pay for it the next. It’s a constant give and take and a lot of prayer.

Your children suffer.
Do they? They have always had me as a mom. I have always been sick. Do they miss out on some things? Yes. But, they are loved, fed, clothed, and cherished. No, they do not have a lot of activities outside the house. However, they are cared for, and we do as much as we can when we can. Will this affect them long term. Yeah, yes it will. Every day I ha e with them is a blessing. They probably need therapy. Who knows. But, they are loved and know it. That’s all I can do.

You use your illness as an excuse.
I might. How would I know? I know how I feel physically and that’s about it. Mentally, I just keep praying I make it one more hour or to whatever is scheduled. I definitely hide from my kids when my pain is too high. They dont go to the ER with me if I can avoid it. I let daddy do a lot on weekends so I can get extra rest. Is that using my illness? I do not believe so.

Your family should be helping you.
They do help when they can. We did live by ‘family’, it honestly didn’t make our lives that much easier. They do what they can when they can. But, my ‘family’ is my husband, and he helps every day.

So who helps you? How can you do this without a support system?
No, I can’t do this by myself. My support system is my church. The women in my church care for my children. My church has a welfare system. My church has an entire system set up to make sure we are spiritually, emotionally, and physically cared for. Some wards have been amazing, and others are harder. But, there is always some kind of support from our ward family. In my worst hours when even my husband couldn’t sit by my side it was a Sister, the Bishops wife, who never left my side and kept a doctor from removing my uterus before I had children. Without my ward family. I would be lost. My gratitude and utter faith in those sisters keeps me from giving up. I know, that my ward family has my back.

What has helped? (This is an amazing question and one I love to anwser)
A therapy dog. Sadly, he passed away.
People willing to be on the ‘get my kids from school I’m stuck in the ER’ phone tree.
Friends. New and old.
Writing my silly romance novels.
My faith that I’m on this journey for a reason.
My husband. He’s not perfect, far from it, however, he has done this song and dance for 12 years and survived two high-risk pregnancies with me.
My stubbornness and knowledge of the health care system. I have to be my own advocate.

All this being said, I have been somewhat lucky with my friends, wards, and doctors. I try to only surround myself with people who are supportive, and I have learned that it is better to scatter my venting or talking about my illness, so I don’t overwhelm my friends.

But there have been bad times with family.
Some of my family has been written off. My husband doesn’t really give second chances to people who send text messages calling me crazy and attention seeking when I am in the hospital with a blood infection. (Yeah, that happened.) When one relative was screaming at me when I was released from the hospital that I was a terrible mother and should have never had children, my husband took the phone away and told this person to never call me again.

Mostly, I just repeat this slogan to myself.

It, hurts, and it’s hard, but this too shall pass.

So, that is my midnight rant. I don’t exactly feel better, but I think that it is essential to share these thoughts. The more I look online, the more I realised that there are millions of women some vocal and some silent and I am choosing to be vocal about this journey. So if you identify with anything said above, writing this post was worth the anxiety and tears.

I chose to not be silent. Maybe, some person needed to read this. Maybe my kids will need to read this someday.

Maybe I just needed to write this down for myself.

Who knows!

Cheers,

CJean

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Surprise Hampton visit

The tea house was closed. We were an hour too late.

So we headed to Hampton Roads to see the neighborhood I used to live in. It was full of beautiful old houses and had a historic cemetery where I had adopted a gravestone. For years I’ve prayed someone kept it clean and in good repair after I left.

It was here and my lab Cody and I walked through here every morning. The kids and I anxiously rushed in and to my shock….

The headstone was in better condition now then it had been in 2003. I have no idea what the flag and cross mean. But, I was crying I was so grateful his headstone looked so good.

It seems odd to grow attached to a man who died so long ago. But, without fail, every morning. I smiled as I read his witty yet wise headstone.

My daughter did the same. My son said he must have been funny.

My eight year old loved this headstone.

It was another one I had cleaned when living there and I told her if we had another free afternoon when it wasn’t almost 100 degrees with humidity we could come back and scrub it up.

Then we went on a quick drive to find the plantations.

These are just over the bridge.

The kids loved this red door.

They loved this one and wanted to buy it to make it pretty again. It was three stories and they tell me it must be haunted.

We needed to get back to VA Beach for dinner but my Lenna had to make another stop.

She found the National Cementary.

And discovered the sobering fact of infant mortality rate in the 1800 and early 1900’s.

She also found a lot of gravestones to take pictures of. I let her have the camera and this is her photo blog now.

After the heat became too much we finally did head on home.

It was lovely to see you, Hampton Roads. Perhaps we will meet again.

The Red family.

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The curl story …

I decided to commit to the curly girl method shortly before I left on vacation.

I got a cut but it wasn’t layered enough. So back to the chair I went and boy did I get what I asked for.

So, this vacation has been all curly girl and I have been rather impressed.

These are day four curls. Not bad.

Today was wash day so into the shower I went where I used my hands to massage my scalp and then just raked through my deep conditioner using my fingers.

When I get out I wrap my hair in a tshirt and then spray it with my Witch I Love Your Hair. Found this product on Instagram and be sure to tell her Crystal Jean sent you her way. It’s a curl family you will love to be a part of.

Next is my massage from scalp to tip with my righteous roots oil. I found this product on Instagram as well. I use it every other wash personally.

Next came the new product I found here in Virginia thanks to my mom. You can probably find it at Target.

I really like it here. We will see what I think out of humidity.

I use a diffuser on my hair because otherwise it will NEVER dry. Usually, I set it on cold or warm but today I mixed in a new product.

I know it’s probably to protect your hair when you straighten it, but I figured why not try it while diffusing and use the hot setting?

This was the results. My hair is super soft, and although the curls are a bit messy, I am hoping it holds up in the humidity this afternoon.

Oh, and I always refresh with my witch spray throughout the day.

So, that is my routine on a wash day.

Cheers,

Cjean