It was a weekend for the books. We had three special reasons to celebrate, so like any good Italian we threw a huge party with tons of food. Almost 60 people came (sorry we couldn't invite more friends....my house would burst) to drink with us, eat with us and thank the Lord for his goodness he has poured out on us.
Our main celebration was for Lucia! On the 26th Looch turned three! Man I can't even think of my life without her. She is a joy. I can't say enough good things about this kid. She is smart, funny, energetic, inquisitive, kind...I could go on...because we are kind of obsessed with her. She is really into the Lion Guard...a spin off of Lion King, so that was this year's theme.
This is my favorite video from the party. Man she is so cute.
Our second reason to celebrate was a big one. After four long months of chemotherapy Josh is finished...and completely cancer free!!! Four months doesn't sound like a long time to be fighting cancer and thank Jesus it was wrapped up in that amount of time...but it was challenging. Having a pregnant wife, working full-time, raising a toddler and fighting cancer is not what anyone wants to be doing. Thankfully, Josh handled the treatment like a champ and is done. Forever. We believe that. Stand with us on that friends.
If you have not read the full story about his diagnosis, here is the link www.lisammartone.com/homepage/our-journey-through-cancer
Our third cake (yes, we had three cakes) was for the new baby! I am 26 weeks pregnant this week, but we waited to find out the gender of our miracle baby until the party so we could do it with family and friends. I had a feeling it was a boy because of the situation this baby came into and some things God had revealed to us, but I wasn't sure!! My mom amazingly kept the secret for almost a month and was on cake duty. Here is a video of the reveal and some pictures.
It was a wonderful day surrounded by many of the local people who have supported us through this journey. It will be a day etched in my mind forever. A day that placed cancer and sickness behind us and new life in front of us. Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us. Love you friends.
This weekend we got to shower my beautiful sister! Melissa and Steve will be getting married Mid-September in Northern New Jersey. We had such a wonderful time with family and friends eating great food and celebrating. Here are some pictures from the day! Love you sis!
So Josh and I have been on a little journey the last few months. Some of you know about it, some didn’t. But it started back in January when we noticed a small bump by Josh's shoulder. As someone who likes to self-diagnose, I told him it was probably just a muscle knot and not to worry about it. So he didn't and I didn't. Towards the beginning of February it started to hurt a little. We tried heat and cold packs and massaged it (dear lawd I was massaging it?!) but it changed very little. So I started bugging him to go get it checked out. He finally went to a general doctor. This doctor was alarmed...very alarmed and started throwing out the word cancer. Cancer? Are you bonkers man? I was personally insulted if I am honest with you guys. We eat clean, stay away from any chemicals in our products we use, we have filters for our drinking water and shower, we detox, we juice, we drink funky teas and we take tons of vitamins....how on earth could you even be uttering the words cancer doc!!? Not to mention Josh was 29!!! Have you lost your marbles man?
From there is was a whirlwind of tests, scans, biopsies, doctors visits and tons, and tons of praying. On February 24, Josh's 30th birthday, while we were celebrating with his family in Kansas, he got the call. The biopsy showed the lymph swelling was cancer. He had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. My head went dizzy. I felt sick to my stomach. I looked at Lucia playing obliviously and wanted to scream. I felt the devil right in my face laughing. I briefly saw the future I had planned for us spin in another direction. I was rattled. I began to sob. God...what on earth? I ran out of the room and tried to get myself together and I called my dad.
Between sobs I told him what the doctor said. Now my dad is the type of person you want to call when something like this happens. He is rational, level headed, not emotional and trusts God for big things. He said to me firmly...Lisa...Stop crying. Someone has come into your house and attacked your family...are you going to just stand there and cry or are you going to fight? This would change the way we looked at this trial.
He was right. This was a specific and personal attack on our family and we were not going to just take it lying down. He told us to decide in our minds that day that God was going to heal Josh of this cancer, that it must go, and we would not settle for anything less than complete and total healing.
James 1:5-8 says... “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
So that was it. Our minds were made up. We wouldn't doubt that God was able to put cancer in its place, that He's got this and we would not be afraid...and we weren't. We prayed...oh man did I pray. Face to the floor, hands to the sky, I plead my case before the Lord and I laid Josh down at his feet. There is a verse in Matthew 15 where it is talking about a time during Jesus's ministry. It says “A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn't speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all.” Everyone laid at the feet of Jesus was healed. All of them. Not some...all of them. So that is what we prayed. We laid the problem at His feet. We laid Josh at His feet. See friends, as Christians we believe our battles are best fought in prayer. We had no control over whether or not these drugs would work, but we did know the God who was in control of it. We had no control over the attack that was on his life, but we did know the God who did. That was our best defense.
In the physical we sprung into action, putting Josh on a few alternative cancer protocols while we waited to see doctors. I made three appointments, with three different oncologists, all who gave us three different ways to treat the disease. My unsolicited advice...if you are ever faced with something like this...get many opinions. Our first oncologists wanted to radiate Josh and the one we ended up going with said that was craziness... they would never radiate someone this young with such a low-grade cancer. It makes a big difference.
During this time, Josh got extremely healthy. His inflammation numbers dropped dramatically, he lost tons of weight and felt amazing. Being honest, I was against chemotherapy the entire time. I believe that if we gave Josh's body enough time on the natural protocols his body would heal itself. It was beginning to the two months prior to treatment. But unlike many cancers, where chemotherapy is more of a risk than cure, Hodgkin's has a different outcome. With low-dose chemotherapy, Hodgkin's has a 90 percent cure rate. Four months of it for Josh's case and the doctors said we would be done. Not a bad outlook. So we prayed about it and decided we would do both. Continue the natural treatments and couple them with the chemotherapy. Then after the treatments,detox his body like crazy and continue to attack what we, and our natural oncologist believe was the route cause of the cancer in the first place.
Chemo is scary though. I had this picture in my head of what it was like. After watching series' like The Truth About Cancer and reading site after site like Chrisbeatscancer.com, I had this view that chemotherapy would render him useless to the world around him. He would be frail and sick and bald. Life as we know it would radically change. Well, let me tell you friends it was the complete opposite for us. The side effects that I read about and heard from others who have gone through this particular treatment...well none of them happened. The mouth sores, the finger nails falling off, the extreme debilitating fatigue, the breathing complications, the bone pain and numbness of limbs...none of it. Aside from three days post-chemo fatigue and nausea, Josh was spared it all. I will proudly brag...he has only missed one day of work...ONE day...and that day I forced him to stay home. Even his chemo nurses comment in disbelief of how well he is handling the treatment.
Our friends and family have been amazing. They have sent baskets, cards and given us gifts of encouragement. They babysat Lucia for doctors appointments and my mother has constantly taken off work to come down and stay with us the days after chemo. But friends, the thing that helped the most...the thing that made all the difference, was the prayers. I will take your well wishes and your good thoughts, but what I really want is your prayers...because that...that moves mountains.
We felt the prayers of Gods people. Josh was covered. Our church, family and friends fasted with us, set their alarms and prayed the moment he was getting infusions, spoke verses over our lives and laid hands on us. No one will ever convince me that didn't make all the difference. It made ALL the difference.
On top of fervent prayer we sought wisdom on what supplements, teas and food to help offset and detox his body from the harsh chemicals of chemotherapy. We saw a natural oncologist who helped with this too. (If any of you would like more information on the research I have done and the supplements I have Josh on...please let me know!)
There were days I would lay awake at night and fear would creep in...what if this didn't work? What are we going to do? That was when I would hold on to God's promises. A big one was my growing belly. That was MY promise God gave to me. And one thing I know is my God is faithful. A verse I held onto through this trial is Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswerving to the hope we profess for He who promised is faithful” He promised that he would add to my family and nothing would be taken from it...and that is exactly what happened.
Josh still has three treatments left because the doctors want to make sure there are not any lingering cells. So he will finish mid to late July. They say he is in remission but I say he is healed already!
We were joking with friends this week about how Josh's birthdays from here on out could never be worse than his 30th. But we believe we will look back on that birthday as the best birthday ever. Every birthday that comes and goes from now on will serve as a reminder of who God is to us and of how he took this and turned it around for our good. Every year that Josh lives, and ages, and gets older will be a testament of how great our God is.
Thank you for your prayers friends. Keep them coming.
Here is the link to Josh's video about his journey. I encourage you to watch it. Click on the picture to link to the video. Love you guys.
This is as good a time as ever to bust out the ol' blog. I know, I know, I have posted maybe two times in the last year. I am yet another well-intentioned blogger. I blogged so well through Lucia's pregnancy to keep family and friends updated so I thought it only fair to our second to strike things up again.
Anyway back to the news! We are so happy to let everyone know that Baby D #2 is on its way! Okay, some of you already know because I have a hard time keeping my trap shut, but now everyone will! The circumstances surrounding this child are amazing, truly God was intimately involved in the timing. This baby is a miracle! We will tell you more soon. But for now check out the first picture of our sweet baby.
Baby D #2 will be due November 10th.
Lucia is such a special little girl. She is a very happy kid and it is easy to get her excited about something...and that is what I did for about two months before her birthday. See the Martones, well we like to make a huge deal about birthdays, well because it is kind of a big deal. Another year in the books and another year we have made it through this crazy place. So we like to celebrate big for birthdays. My mother would hang up the birthday sign and throw huge parties for us when we were little and I will be doing the same for my kids. Those were special memories that I want Lucia to have.
So for two months before her birthday, I would tell her about her party, what decorations we are going to have, she would list all of her friends that she wanted to come, we would look online for gifts she might like and then for two weeks before the party we practiced blowing out candles on pretend play dough cakes. She was pumped, to say the least.
Her birthday was on a Tuesday and her party on a Saturday...so Sunday the decorations went up. Tuesday I made a cake and we continued to eat that cake until Friday night (singing to her and letting her blow out candles every single night). I know...a little over the top...but I want my kids to always remember how special they are...how grateful I am for their life and how their birth day made our lives so much better.
For her party, we invited immediate family and Lucia's friends and had a wonderful day celebrating my sweet, spunky, wild, daughter. Here are some pictures of the party!
Thank you to everyone who made it out, sent gifts, and share our love for this sweet little firecracker.
Don't get me wrong friends.... I don't want me or anyone for that matter to get Zika or whatever disease the mosquitoes are carrying these days but I also don't want my child touching, running around in and breathing a known neurotoxin.There has to be a better solution?!?! ...but for now there isn't. So lets talk a little about it.
Last week I had a friendly little chat with my county mosquito inspector. I found out that the pesticide they use on our streets and lawns is called Scourge (At least in NJ). The main active ingredients are resmethrin and piperonyl butoxide. According to the NJ and NY State Health Departments resmethrin is a man-made pyrethroid insecticide and piperonyl butoxide acts to increase the ability of resmethrin to kill insects. These active ingredients are dissolved in a petroleum solvent, similar to paint thinner or kerosene...and there you have it...death to thousands of mosquitoes...sounds great so far right?
First let me tell you what the state health departments say about this toxic mixture. Short-term exposures to high levels of pyrethroid can affect the nervous system, causing loss of coordination, tremors, dizziness or tingling and numbness in areas of skin contact. Short-term exposure to high levels of petroleum solvents can cause irritation of the eye, skin, nose, throat or lungs. There are currently no studies on the long term effects of being exposed to this mixture...but I am going to go out on a limb and say it's not good.
The chemical resmethrin has been shown in studies to act as an androgen, which is a class of naturally occurring hormones. So we can call this chemical an endocrine distributor...like BPA you hear about in plastic. What this does is interfere with the endocrine system which is made up of glands that produce hormones that act together for development, growth, reproduction, behavior, and the maintenance of normal organ function. When animals were given high levels of this resmethrin...there was evidence that showed changes in thyroid hormone levels and they developed tumors in the liver....And this is not the only pesticides that has this effect on the bodies of animals and humans...it's bad news (insert plug for eating organic.)
Piperonyl butoxide, the second active ingredient is a suspected carcinogen and believed to be highly toxic to the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal, reproductive and nervous systems. Like resmethrin it is toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic life. In animals it is shown to attack the nervous system and then the resmethrin prevents the bug or animal from detoxing the chemical. This is why testing shows liver tumors developing in rats that were given pyrethroids. The liver is their main pathway for detoxification. Ours is too. So lets not be naive and think it can't and wouldn't do the same thing to our bodies.
Now onto what the EPA says about pyrethroids. On their website they list them as a neurotoxin substance especially during development. In studies of young mice the chemical made changes in neurological active proteins in the brain. They also state that studies show adults have demonstrated altered nerve function and have developed nervous disorders from high levels of exposure. A second study mentioned, showed the little devil increased incidences of anti-nuclear antibodies which are big markers for auto-immune diseases.
Some of my research showed this toxic mix will stay in the soil for at least six months...ugh. The good news is the transfer of the residue only lasts for a few days and if you make attempts to wash it off of objects it will break down easily.
So why doesn't the town inform people and tell you this cloud of toxins could be unsafe? Well Camden County's mosquito inspector said "some people can have a reaction" and if I am worried about it I should wash off any toys left outside. That's it. That was his warning...but this guy is just doing his job and like many people in our society if a government agency tells them its safe in low doses...they believe them...I...well I don't. Anything that could paralyze and then slowly kill a bug, by preventing it from metabolizing the chemical and is toxic to some birds and amphibians...can't be safe for people. Aside from studies, common sense would tell me so.
So look...my words to the wise are this...find out when your county or town is spraying...you can call them or check their websites(they came to my house to discuss this with me-yes, I'm that lady)...it usually happens overnight, so make sure you stay inside. Cover your gardens unless you are into that sort of thing. Put away kids toys that you can...especially things like water tables where kids drink from (before you can yell at them to not drink the water everyone is putting their dirty little hands in.) Whatever you can't put away, wash well the next day. If you can kill the AC for the hours they will be spraying even better...I told my husband he better hope its not a hot night because he will be sweating like he actually ran that triathlon he always talks about doing.
My last note..According to the EPA, Pyrethroids are used everyday on agricultural crops, particularly fruits and vegetables. So friends I urge you...if you can't buy organic make sure you are washing your fruits and vegetables well. If I have to eat non-organic I soak them in a vinegar water mixture for about 5-10 minutes. This should get rid of all the nasty residue left. You can also place them in a colander and let the water wash over them. The force of the running water will wash off most of the pesticide junk. Or you can just peel them. You don't want to be eating what Monsanto be making.
Love you guys!
Camden County peoples...HERE is the website where they will post the areas they will be spraying. They start JUNE 6!! As of today (June 1) they have not posted any areas yet...but I have been hassling them...so it should be up soon!
A few of you read my blog post about the flame resistant PJs...if you didn't, you can HERE. After committing to getting rid of the PJ's we found were treated, I began searching for an organic cotton brand that wouldn't break the bank. I'm just not going to spend $30 on a pair of pajamas that she will grow out of in a few months....let me rephrase that...Josh will not let me spend $30 on a pair of pajamas.
So after a little searching I found a brand called New Jammies. It was created by a chemist who is passionate about getting chemicals out of as many things as possible...go figure.
You can read more about it HERE.
The great thing about these jammies is Amazon sells them and they are stupid cheap. They must be older styles or something because if you look at the New Jammies site they are $30 plus...on Amazon though they range from $5-25...and are still sold by the company themselves. We picked up three pairs...all about $7 each. I mean...$7 for organic cotton one-piece jammies...you can't beat that. Here is Lucia sporting hers...with her new "cheese" face.
So if you guys are looking for some comfy organic jammies these are fabulous....and cheaper than most brands you will find. Here are a few links to some of the lower priced ones.
For those of you that know us, you already know that Josh and I are trying our hardest to live as organic and natural as possible. I just don’t want chemicals in my body, on it, or around us. Not too much to ask…right? Well it is more difficult than I want it to be. Living without chemicals and pollutants in this day, is impossible, but we are doing what we can to slowly eliminate toxins and educate ourselves on alternatives of conventional food, products and clothing to try and reduce exposure. In this quest to live more cleanly, I have come across many things that have completely shocked me. How about some sex hormones or prednisone in your drinking water? Yum (Article).
There are contaminates and toxins everywhere and the small…very small…hippie part of me wants to scream when I find one more thing that could possibly be a danger to my family and me.
Enter Lucia’s pajamas.
This week’s shocker happened when I glanced unassumingly at the tag of my daughters PJ’s. The label read “flame resistant.” Oh man. I know from research I have done on mattresses, car seats and furniture, of the potential dangers of flame retardant treatments, so I was not pumped.
Maybe some of you know this…but I didn’t…so here is the skinny.
Kids pajamas from ages 9-months and up are required by law to meet flammability requirements, which means they are treated with flame retardants to make them resistant to fires. This happened initially in the early 1970s. TheUS Department of Commerce declared it mandatory so manufactures began treating.
Sounds good right? Well not really.
The chemicals they were using initially were very untested...one chemical in particular....Tris-BP. After four years of adding it to children's pajamas, it was banned. The National Cancer Institution found it to be one hundred times more powerful than the carcinogens in cigarette smoke. Fabulous. Slowly some of the other retardants being used have been eliminated...but slowly is a key word here friends. You all know how this works...if cost is going to go up for manufacturers in anyway, most will fight tooth and nail to avoid it.
Back to the dangers....Aside from Tris-BP, flame retardants, still in use, have been linked to serious health risks like cancer, birth defects, neurodevelopment delays in children, hormone and thyroid issues and more. Do any simple search online and you will find tons of studies and articles about the dangers. Here is one here and here and here and here.
Chemicals used on the fabrics include chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, inorganic flame retardants such as antimony oxides, and phosphate-based compounds (link)
In one of the articles I came across, a Yale University publication, a professor of chemistry at Duke University, Heather Stapleton, said, “A high proportion of infants are in physical contact with products treated with these chemicals almost 24 hours a day. Some of these chemicals are either known or suspected carcinogens. During the first year of life, infants are still developing, particularly their brain. And some of these flame retardant chemicals have chemical structures similar to known developmental neurotoxicants (e.g. organophosphate pesticides).”
The publications also links low baby birth weight to a high amount of flame retardants in the mothers blood.
But aren’t fires a large concern too? Yes of course. But is it necessary for flame retardants to be in kids PJ’s? That is up to you to decide, but here is a little additional info. This blog gives an example of some stats from the CPSC that shows the majority of children hurt or killed in fire incidents between 2004 and 2005 were wearing daytime clothing. There were incidences that did happen at night but the study shows that a dozen or so of those children were wearing flame retardant pajamas and still suffered injuries. None of the incidents involved children wearing 100% cotton tight fitting pajamas or infant garments size 9 months or smaller (which aren’t treated with flame retardants). In general…aside from this study there are very low incidences of burn injuries in pajamas overall....and as one reader pointed out, most fire deaths are from smoke injuries (link).
So we decided putting Lucia in the treated PJ's was a risk we are not going to take....because there is a much better option. Two piece sets like the one you see on Lucia here.
These do not have to be treated because they are tight fitting pajamas. The tags on them say “wear snug fitting" or "not flame resistant.” So these are a great option. But they MUST be tight fitting. Opting for cotton or wool and avoiding synthetic materials like polyester and nylon will help you avoid the retardants. Most of these unnatural fibers will contain chemicals, either woven into the fabric or put on after. Look for the key words on the tags “must be snug fitting” and “not flame resistant.”
So what to do with the ones we already have?
There were several articles (here and here) that I came across that said if the PJ's that are 100% polyester, during manufacturing they chemically insert fire retardants, and because they are part of the polyester's molecular composition, they are "stable and not likely to harm children...." Not likely? Hmm
Some say you can wash out the flame resistant chemicals with things like de-greasing soap, baking soda or vinegar, but again from the research I have done, I can't find any solid proof of this and it just seems like these "tricks" will deactivate the flame retardant qualities on treated ones and not actually take the chemicals out (especially if they have been woven into the fabric) potentially making the PJ’s more dangerous.
Yes, there are a lot more things to worry about than Lucia's PJs ...like where will we move if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton gets elected...But why take a health risk if you don't have to? So the Duvall’s will now stick with natural fibers and tight fitting sleepers…and I hope you guys do as well.
I mean....come on...have you ever seen a cuter leopard in all of your life???? I can't stand how cute this kid is sometimes!
The last few weeks we have been taking advantage of everything fall. I will keep this post short because you guys pretty much know what pumpkin picking and trick or treating entails, but we have just had so much fun this year. Fall just got a whole lot better now that Lucia had lightened up our family. It is a blessing to be able to do this fun stuff with her...to see her face when we let her run around the pumpkin patch or when she dumped out all the candy she got from the neighbors...makes my year.
She did great for Halloween too... she would knock on a door, take a candy from their bowl and put it in her pumpkin perfectly! She picked it up quick and it was adorable.
So here are a few pictures and videos from our adventures....Love you guys!
Today would have been Chloe’s 12th birthday. But instead of a happy day it is a day that holds much sadness this year. Eight days ago we lost her to lung cancer. I started writing this blog the day after she passed –I felt she deserved a tribute–but I got as far as “Chloe died yesterday,” and I had to stop. It just seemed so bizarre to write that. I read it 100 times to see if it would set in and then I just closed the computer.
Chloe was the first pet my family ever had. We had small things like hermit crabs, tons of fish and birds but never a “real pet.” When I was 20 my mom was convinced to bring home an adorable little, chocolate, American Cocker Spaniel.
She was not the easiest dog to have. She was picky with who she liked, was super protective over my mother and she had moments where she would chase us out of the room, show her teeth and terrify our guests! But Chloe had many sweet moments. She always greeted you with not just a tail wag but an entire butt wag, she would rest her head on your leg and cuddle, would go for a swim with you in the pool …. and she was SO smart. I spent many hours walking with her, sleeping by her and playing with her over her 12 years of life. As with any dog, towards the end she got slow and tired, but she would still have bursts of energy and very sweet moments.
At the age of 10, the vet found a spot of skin cancer around her paw. We caught it early and with surgery and a few anti-cancer vaccine shots, she was cancer free…we thought. This cancer had a high rate of metastasis. In many dogs the cancer would travel into the lungs; however we were told if we did the vaccine shots we had a good chance of killing the infected cells before that could happen.
We were wrong. About three weeks ago Chloe started to change. She wasn’t eating well, she was losing weight and was lethargic. She had good days and bad days but we were determined to figure out what was going on. We took her to the vet and they began running every test they could think of. Her chest would be the last they check because we just had an X-ray done in the middle of June and it was perfect. None of us, including the vet, thought there would be cancer filling up her lungs.
It happened so fast. She went to the vet last Tuesday and she seemed like she was getting better, even scarfed down a ton of food while she was there. By Friday though, her breathing became extremely labored. Saturday morning the “last resort” X-ray showed what we had been dreading for the last two years…a chest full of cancer.
We were devastated. The vet, who we have gone to for years and trusted extremely, between tears, told us there was nothing we could do at this point. The worst news any pet owner can hear. I rushed up from South Jersey to spend one more night with my little pup. The last hours were brutal. We had an appointment Sunday at 10 am. I walked into the house to be greeted by her one last time at 2pm Saturday. The countdown began. Every time I looked at the clock I would calculate how many hours I had left with her.
She was so sick though. I was shocked when I saw her because I had just been up for a visit and she was acting completely normal. Now, she didn’t want to move too much, had trouble breathing and going to the bathroom and refused the treats and bone I brought her.
So instead of a normal family hang out…It was a day full of lasts. The last time Chloe would sit outside with us while we barbecued, her last steak dinner, her last swim in the pool, her last time watching TV with us, her last time sleeping next to me…it was heartbreaking. We cried a lot, but she was suffering so much more than us. Her breathing was labored and her chest would cave in and out with every breath. The last night of her life the girls in the family slept right near her, my sister on one couch, my mother on the other and me on the floor right next to her.
I slept one hour that night. She was so uncomfortable and kept changing positions –and she was breathing so heavily I knew she was having trouble getting oxygen in. I stayed awake and pet her, telling her it was okay and that we were going to get her out of pain soon. Our vet told us animals will tell you when it is their time to go –and Chloe was definitely telling us. She would stare at us strangely and would place her paw on my arm and give me this sad look through the night.
The morning came and she looked worse. It was about 9 am when I noticed her tongue and mouth had a blue tint to it. I wanted to scream. Chloe had been through a lot in her short life. Two ACL surgeries, skin cancer, an ear surgery to repair damage from an infection, an eye surgery and had gone under twice for teeth to be pulled. We did everything we could to make this dog’s life as comfortable as possible –but this time we could not do anything and that was the worst feeling. By 9:30 we could not even stand to watch her breath so heavily anymore ....we told my sister and brother to just take her. They bravely volunteered to stay by her side as she was put to sleep, something my mother and I could never have done. The walk to the car was horrific. We knew this was the last time we would ever see her. When my sister was pulling out of the driveway I wanted to yell to her..I wanted to call her and tell her forget it...this is stupid, why are we doing this! But I knew we didn’t have a choice and the feeling of helplessness was sinking. By 10:15 she was gone.
It’s so strange the death of an animal. For people, even when they are sick, the day and time of death is always an uncertainty. With pets you know the exact time –it seems so unnatural but at the same time i’m grateful we have an option of ending their suffering.
Sometimes Chloe was such a pain! Her barking, crazy behavior...and how we could not trust her around Lucia drove me bonkers sometimes...but this dog was so very loved. We humanize these pets and they become like family and when they leave us, they leave a void. She will be missed. It is unclear in the Bible whether or not our pets will be up there with us...but I would like to think so.
We will miss you Chloe! Hope you are running around up there waiting for us!
Chloe during happier times...
Oh man what a crazy, busy month July was. When we moved into our home we immediately began renovations. The bones of the house were great, but it was very outdated, so updating and making it our own happened right away. We gave ourselves the deadline of Lucia's birthday, July 26, to have most of the work completed. It was ambitious and a little insane....the last month was crazy. Days before we had a party for 60 planned we were tiling the kitchen floor and the day before we were moving in a new refrigerator. I will write another blog soon with some updated pictures of the house to show you all our progress—it was bonkers. We literally worked on the house almost every day for five months. I get extremely tired again just thinking about it. Josh told everyone he had two jobs. A certified financial planner who moonlights as a contractor. I slaved the poor guy...anyway ....on to more important things!!
Our sweet girl turned one! What an amazing year it has been with my buddy. The beginning was hard. We were living in Albany—we didn’t really know anyone—we were far from family—and we had absolutely no clue what we were doing. Once we moved to Jersey though, and Lucia got a bit older, it started to get much easier and a lot more fun.
Lucia is so great. She is sassy, wild, loud, beautiful, so friendly and a ball of energy. She dances to literally any song or beat she hears, she sings with me, and she smiles and waves at EVERYONE she sees when we go out—I am not exaggerating either. The kid has never met a stranger. When we are in the stores I will be pushing her in the stroller and I will see people waving to her and smiling and I am like what the heck is going on in there??…I take a peek and she is hamming it up all over the place. She’s a joy. She really fits her name “brilliant light” ...that is what this kid is—a joy and a light. So for her first birthday we wanted to do it up big! We invited about 80 of our friends and family and had a great turn out of about 50 adults and 10 kids. I was praying for a month for good weather and we got it. Sunny and 80's--perfect! We had tons of food, games for kids, an over-priced cake and some really awesome people to celebrate with. Below are some of the pictures from the day! We did have a photographer come out because taking photos and running the party would have just been too much for me...and it was totally worth it.
Thank you to everyone who came out or sent gifts! You made this little girl’s day so special for us and her! We love you Lucia Marie!
Ah! It has been a month since my last post! What the heck? Where did the month of June go?? We have been busy at the Duvall house. Between our anniversary, Lucia's model stuff, planning for her birthday and home renovations we have been going crazy over here. I kind of feel like a crazy person most days but thankfully Lucia is sleeping through the night so well finally and we are starting to feel like humans again. Praises. Speaking of Lucia...she is 11 months old!!! Ok I am a week late but here is this sweet little pumpkins 11 month old update.
These photo shoots are progressively getting more wild and destructive so I am secretly glad this is our last one. We are getting a photographer for her first birthday so I am off the hook with that. Lucia doesn't want to sit still and wants to eat every kind of paper that comes in her view. She has eaten tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, Styrofoam, books, my bills, a doctors prescription, a magazine, a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon, my shopping list...you get the idea. I mean I try and stop her but she always manages to get a bite or two in there. So these number stickers are too irresistible to her and I have a matter of seconds before the photo shoot goes south and a number gets eaten.
Lucia is such a sweet girl though. Just pure joy. When she comes into a room of people she has a grin on from ear to ear. She waves at everyone, smiles and is very affectionate. She tried to kiss a stranger girl at the library three weeks ago...this kid. I have learned so much from her joy and acceptance of people as well. I was in a store the other day waiting in line to return something and there was a handicap woman greeting people at the door. She was mentally and physically handicap but kept saying hi to Lucia over and over. Lucia was loving it. Smiling and waving and laughing. It was the sweetest thing. It made me so sad because to Lucia there is nothing wrong with this woman. She didn't look at her and see that she was different. She was smiling and loving her company and it makes me sad to think this world will try and change that. I hope and pray that never happens.
Okay I am done being sad.
Lucia has taken a few steps and is SO close to walking. Which I kind of can't wait for. I know I will have to chase her around more...but girl is BIG. Sometimes I need a break from carrying around a 26-pounder. The other day I parked too far from the door of a store...I swear to you friends I almost didn't make it. I actually threw a prayer up and was like "Jesus please don't let me drop her."
What else is new with her?? She has picked up a few more words, is starting to recognize colors and remembers the craziest things. She is just the best and we love her to pieces! Here are some more pictures of our very quick photo shoot.
We are a little late on this post. Lucia turned 10 months on the 26th and to commemorate that she picked up a wicked sickness and gave it to Josh and I as a thank you for all the loving care. But seriously, Lucia has never been sick before, so this past few days has been very hard for us. It's so horrible watching your little baby sick. Ugh...a nightmare. Thankfully my mother came down to help us because Josh and I are both feeling awful still. Taking care of a sick baby is not an easy task. Taking care of a sick baby when you are sick...is the worst. We have had to tag team like no other. Lucia seems to be improving though...Josh and I are still in the sick zone. Hopefully whatever this cold is that her "always touching everything and putting it in her mouth" little self gave us goes away soon. Pray for us friends.
Anyway...back to Lucia. We did this photo shoot the day before she got really sick so maybe that is why she was kind of a psycho during it. However, I think she has entered the bonkers infant stage...but we love it. She is wild and squirmy and loud and moving everywhere. This month she has probably changed the most compared to other months prior. She started crawling like a champ, learned she could pull her self up by holding onto anything, is cruising, is fearlessly letting go of whatever she is holding on to and trying to balance herself and she has started to imitate things we do.
Physically, she went from not crawling or anything to bouncing around like crazy. Nap and bedtime consist of her standing and jumping, beating on the wall while standing in the crib and throwing herself around for about 30 minutes before she passes out like she got punched. It is entertaining yet at the same time terrifying. I have an odd suspicion it will not be long before she tries to jail break out of that crib. Just when I thought I was going to get some sleep at night.
Her brain in that big 'ol head...is developing wonderfully as well. She started doing things like...picking up her brush and pretending to brush her hair, taking the channel changer and holding it towards the TV, she gives hugs and kisses on demand or just because she is super sweet, she waves hi and bye to people in person and on TV, she claps when other people clap...like in church, she follows direction like...'put the the toys in the basket' and she definitely knows what "No" means! My favorite new thing is this video below. Every time I put her for a nap I cover her face with the blanket and say "where is Lucia" then pull it off and she laughs and laughs...I have been doing this since she was 4 months old...well this week she started to do it by herself...its so stinking cute.
It was back in November when my brother jokingly said, “Lucia is so cute you should make some money off that face.” We laughed. It was funny, but I never thought about actually doing that. Everyone thinks their kid is cute right? Well, as the months went on, everyone I knew would tell me how adorable she was. When I was in stores strangers constantly came up to me to tell me how cute she was. So just for the fun of it, I looked up four of the top, legit children’s modeling agencies in New York City. I sent her pictures and two got back to me. One said they were interested but needed to wait till she was a little older, and another wanted to meet her as soon as possible. So Josh and I talked about it and prayed about it and figured what the heck.
A few weeks later I went into the city with my sister and Lucia to meet the owner of the agency. Of course they loved her. Lucia is a people person. She’s smiley, she goes to anyone and she is fun. So after more talking and praying about it Josh and I decided to go for it. From there they sent us the contract information and told us how everything works. Basically each month Josh or I take photos of Lucia and send them to the agency with her updated information (height, weight…etc.) Then they send the pictures out to whomever is looking for baby models on her behalf. We really don’t have to do anything besides bring her to shoots and casting calls. We had to get a child performer permit for her from New York State and we had to open a bank account for her. Whatever she makes, Josh and I will save for her, invest and then when she is old enough, let her use it for whatever she may like. By law we have to keep 15% of the money she makes in the account, but we are going to just throw it all in there and see what happens.
We didn’t tell anyone except family about it, because we wanted to see how it would all work and how she would take …before we told anyone else. So these past few weeks we had a chance to test it out.
About two weeks ago we went to a closed casting call for baby H&M. An open casting is for everyone and anyone. A closed casting is for a certain amount of kids that the people from H&M pick to see. It was pretty simple. I came with Lucia, they took a few pictures of her against a white screen and we went on our way. These we don’t get paid for. These are just for the casting people to see if they like her. We have not heard back about H&M yet...so we will see what happens with that. This week though Lucia did have her first shoot!
Motherhood Maternity/Destination Maternity picked Lucia and a little boy named Weston to be in their Fall 2015 shoot. Most of you mothers are familiar with those brands. They have their own stand alone stores and they sell their clothing in places like Buy Buy Baby and Macy’s.
So on Tuesday Josh and I took Lucia into the city for an 11am call time. It was at a place called Dune Studios in New York City. Inside the studio were about 30 different people…from hair stylist to wardrobe to photographers. She would be shooting with three different models. Lucia was somewhat of a prop in the shoot. She wasn’t the main focus…the “mother’s” clothes were. So anyway…the first model there was Max Jablonsky. Ladies if you click on his name…keep your cool. When you look at pictures of him he comes off as this big time super model dude, but he was so nice and goofy and scared to hold babies. It was almost painful seeing him hold Lucia. You could tell in the one picture we took below where he is bending Lucia...she is holding on for dear life. Poor boy had no clue. When he got off the set I said “Hey uh Max you don’t have kids do you?” He laughed and said “was it that obvious”….ummmm yea. He was so sweet though…kept trying to play with Lucia and the other little boy. Cute. The next model was Jessica Clement. She was the “mom” in the shoot. Tall, skinny and beautiful! She was a little more comfortable holding Lucia, but did make a comment on how heavy she was. More to love. The last was the “grandma,” and that was Terra Hinrichs....Also very beautiful.
Lucia was used in about three different set ups. The first was with Jessica alone, next with Jessica and Max and the last time with Jessica and Terra. Overall it went well. Lucia was a little shell shocked at first but I think they got a couple of great shots with her. Once they brought out the big balloons she was all smiles. Towards the end Lucia and Weston were getting tired, but we were in and out in less than four hours. She also walked away with a new outfit and a teddy bear...on top of the money she made. I think it was a successful first shoot. The women from Motherhood Maternity said the shots of Lucia will run from the end of August to October in their stores, on their website and possibly Macy’s. They couldn’t tell us exactly when and where but we will certainly be looking for them! I can’t wait to see! Friends let me know if you find one!
So we will see where this goes. I am hoping she doesn't get picked for a ton of things and it is just a fun day in the city for us once in a while.
Here are a few pictures from the shoot. They are not great. We were a bit frazzled for our first time and I wasn’t sure if I should be taking a ton of pictures of their new fall clothes.
Check out this little cutie! This week Lucia turned 9 months old this week and she is as fun as ever. This kid just keeps getting cuter and cuter, I can barely stand it. She literally smiles all day long. Smiles at the TV, at me, at birds outside, at strangers...everything. Josh and I are relatively happy people but we don't go around smiling at everything..she does! Its so funny. She is also big into dancing right now. My brother gave her this noise toy that plays different songs if you press a button...and she presses it all day long and dances to it. Here's videos.
She screams and plays and laughs its the best. She is such a happy baby...and a smart little thing. I love to watch her face when we show her something new, or when she does something we are proud of and she looks at us and smiles. Its the best.
She has added a bunch of new words to her vocabulary, she can now identify different animals in pictures if we say things like "where is the cat Lucia?," she tells us when she is "all done" when eating and she knows who people are when we say their names. She is not crawling fully yet, which I am not rushing!! But she has started to army crawl and she can climb up and stand....and wait for it....she SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT! Wahoo!! We suffered long and hard but eventually she started sleeping through the night and we didn't have to do the cry out method which I was not pumped about. I love this girl more and more everyday! Here's some more info on Lucia and 9 month pictures.
For those of you who know me well, you know it is not far fetched to believe that I used to be that young, childless woman on a plane commenting about the baby in the seat behind me crying, whining, crapping all over and babbling through the flight. My mouth has spoken things such as "man shut that baby up," "yes, yes lady, your baby crapped..change the diaper," and we can't forget the "babies shouldn't be allowed on a planes...ever." Well somewhere around Ohio I began to vaguely remember that young, energy filled girl and how she has been replaced with a tired, slightly bonkers mom, begging her husband to strap on the baby carry and cart the baby up and down the plane to shut her up. Yes, yes, we were those parents. Lucia is the best. She's a great baby, but this baby, when tired, becomes very high maintenance. She needs....
Her Buckeyes Blanket...
Her humidifier that makes a fan noise...
And ample room to spread out...
...so mom and dads jiggly bellies and boney shoulders were not cutting it. For the first hour of our first flight from Philadelphia to Kansas my nightmare came true...an extremely tired baby, who would not sleep while being held and was straight losing her mind.
We pulled out all the stops friends. We let her see our iPhones (which is a no-no at home), continually fed her, gave her all of the 89430849238094 million toys I brought on the plane for her, even busted out the baby carrier and carted her screaming self around the plane like a bunch of wackos. Nothing. After an hour, which felt like a day, she finally relented. And would you believe what got her to stop crying and calm down before she passed out?? A cup. A friggin cup from the stewardess. What the ?@$#%*^%#. Well played stewardess, you mastermind.
The flight going home was much better. I guess Lucia figured out she was going to have to just suck it up and pass out on her pops till we were home free.
Our trip back to the Midwest, however, was a bit more enjoyable. This was the first time since Lucia has been born that we have come for a visit. It had been a year since we had seen family in Kansas and almost two years since we saw friends in Des Moines. So crazy how fast that went. It was a whirlwind but we had a great time catching up with everyone. We miss you guys so much!! So happy you all got to meet Lucia!...but ....so glad the flights are over. Friends and family in Kansas and Des Moines you might not see us again for...hmmm...I don't know...maybe a decade or two...when all of the children we want to have are old..potentially with children of their own.
Lucia is getting toooooo biggggg!!! (insert crying face!!) My little...well not so little... girl was 8 months on Thursday. I am happy to report folks, she is only waking up once a night! Halleluiah! Thank the good Lord because her waking up every two hours was enough to put me in the nut house and it almost turned Josh into a narcoleptic. Poor kid would fall asleep doing normal task like... searching the internet on his phone...
and in mid sentence. It was getting kind of annoying and a little bit concerning...but whatever. So anyway, back to Lucia. This big mama is tipping the scale at 21 pounds! My parents are slightly alarmed at the amount she eats, but we don't even feed her! She feeds herself!! We messed with purees for like a week and it was very time consuming, made a huge mess and it seemed like Lucia was advanced enough to pick up food on her own and chew it without causing me to dial 911. We were right. We put some food on her plate and she feeds herself and stops when she is full. But this kid...this kid can eat. This morning she put down some cucumber, two egg yokes and half a banana...an hour after a 7oz bottle of milk. Yea, my adult sister eats less than that for breakfast. We are glad that she is not a picky eater though, that would be bad considering Josh and I will literally eat anything.
So what's new with this little sausage?? Well, she is not crawling yet, but she is getting close. She does get up on her hands and knees but just kind of gets stuck there...she also loves to stand and hold on to things...so maybe she will walk before she crawls? Who knows. She talks ALL the time and screams. That's my fault because I just squeal at her all the time, very loudly.
She's super fun and her personality is very apparent and it is scarily similar to mine. Pray.For.Us.Friends. She is starting to throw little baby fits when she wants something and she is very strong willed. We love it though. We will, God willing, channel it for good.
She is very smart. I am sure all parents say that about their kids, but she really is. She knows a bunch of words already, can clap her hands on cue, looks outside when you say 'look at the tree and birds,' looks at the door when you say 'who is here'..a bunch of that stuff like that. She is very aware. She's not just a babbly baby, she acts like she knows whats going on. She acts very grown up. It's funny. We love our chubby little sausage!
Here are some pictures from her 8 month photo shoot.
We just past the one month mark in our new home. One month of living here and six weeks of busting our butts to try and get this place to where we want it to be. It is not even close to a finished product but little by little we are getting there.
We already decided our next house is going to be new construction- insert tired face- I love projects and crafting but it is a lot of work buying a house that needs updating...especially with a seven month old. But...I have a vision of how I want it to look and bless Josh's heart he has really been wonderful in helping me get the place there. He not only has let me buy literally everything I have asked for up to this point (within reason), but he has done project after project without complaining ...where did I find this guy?? I really want to get the house to a place that is comfortable for us and welcoming for other people. Our vision is to make our home a meeting place for people, welcoming, cozy and peaceful. That is our goal.
So here is a look at the upstairs level at month one. The before pictures were done by the realty company...so they are definitely edited and make the place look a bit better than it did when we moved in. The house overall was in excellent shape...just very outdated.
Lets start with the bathroom. We ripped up the wallpaper, painted the walls, replaced the medicine cabinet and lights, changed the outlets and outlet covers, replaced the door knobs, painted the closet and covered the shelves with cool contact paper, took down the blinds and I made curtains. Ugh! We still need to replace the whole sink, update the bars and faucet to nickle finishes...then we are done in there!
Our bedroom... we took out the carpet and painted the walls teal, put up curtains, the outlets and door knobs were replaced, the closet painted and an organizer was put in. We still need to replace our bedding to match the teal/gold theme (I was washing our sheets in the after pic =)...we are also going to get rid of the ceiling fan and we need to hang some things on the wall.
Next Lucia's room...This room was a hot mess. The wallpaper was 6 layers deep and it took the longest, it was horrid. We ripped out the wallpaper, took off the closet doors, painted, put in a new closet rack, decorated and put up curtains. We still need to change out the light fixture and work on her closet. What I would like to do is throw down a cute rug in the closet and put book shelves on the sides to make it a little reading nook for her when she is a bit older...oh and put on the light switch cover! Opps! I just changed that last night and needed to touch up the paint.
Spare bedroom...Not too much has been done to this room. We took out the carpet and painted the room yellow and put up some nice curtains. We have a small bed in there for now which we will replace with a queen...but we really have not done too much with this room yet. I scored those bedside tables on craigslist for 15$ each and I will paint them some color, but I am not sure yet what that will be. I also bought a wonderful mid-century modern dresser for this room that I will refinish! This room is not a huge priority right now so we are trying to finish up the main rooms first before I have at those projects.
Here is a view of the hallway before and after as well. We got rid of one of the railings and hung a couple of little pictures and signs at the end of the wall. I am going to add more to the end of the hallway as I come across things I feel would fit there. I also want to add a few huge pictures along the side walls, and change the hallway light.
I am tired just re-reading this!! A lot of work but so worth it! Thanks for all the prayers for our transition. It has been going great! We love this area...such an improvement from where we were in Albany! Love you friends!
So this little doll is 7 months old...and she is so fun. The infant stage was nice...I mean kind of. It was hard. Long nights, busy days, it was a haze. Now, I am really enjoying my sweet pea. I am going to say about 90 percent of the time, if you look at her and smile, she will smile right back. She is such a happy baby. A bit stubborn and definitely strong willed (pray for us), but so happy and smiley. In the last month her personality has continued to blossom. She tries to communicate more and more and we now understand what her grunts and noises mean...which is so strange since they make no real sense. She sits and plays so well by herself and overall is an easy baby. The nights are still not where we want them to be, but we are down to just two wake ups most nights, which is not bad at all.
Lucia is awesome though...we could not have asked for a better baby and we love her to pieces. Here is some more detail on our sweet little sausage.
This big mama turned six months this week! She is growing like a weed and has been changing so much developmentally over the past few weeks. At about 5 months she said her first word...and it was "mama" wahoo! I had been working on that since she was born. A few days later I kept repeating "dada" and showing her Josh's picture and one day when he came home, he picked her up and she said it....so now we are even ;) She also sounds like she says "grandma,"and she will wave and say "hi".
Overall though, she is changing from acting like an infant to acting like a little girl. She can be quite serious at times, she always watches people when they talk and is very aware of what is going on around her. She is not a big crier and she eats very well. She is a great baby. I am very lucky. Her smile makes my day and her little face is too stinking cute!!
Here is a peek at Lucia at 6 months.
Hello friends! I am Lisa. Lover of Christ and family, a former television reporter, and a wife and mom who strives to live a healthy, toxic free lifestyle.