I can't believe how fast the time is going. Big ol' Henri boy is already five months! This month Henri has been working on sitting up and is decent at it. It's tough for the big guys, you know. Can't say we don't get some good laughs at him falling over when we prop him up...but he is a good sport and just starts laughing with us. He is super giggling. Especially when he looks at Lucia. Oh man it is so cute. He laughs and laughs at her!
This month we also tried some sweet potatoes...but....then he didn't poo the entire next day, so we put a halt on the solids and probably won't try them again for a week or so. With Lucia, we did baby led weaning, which I prefer SO much more than mushing everything. Basically baby led weaning is encouraging baby to feed themselves rather than doing puree' on a spoon. So you offer them soft foods and they pick it up on their own and go for it. Lucia perfected this at six months and it was so much easier!
What else...Henri loves his bouncer and will stay in there forever if I let him. He talks ALL day long. Is in love with Lucia. Whenever she is even around him he smiles and smiles at her and tries to get her attention. He is sleeping pretty well...and by pretty well...I mean...waking me up all dang night. He is definitely growing fast though. He is already getting too small for 12 month clothing...I know right?? We are buying him 18 month clothes now. What on earth. He is 98 percentile for weight at 21 pounds, and 90 percent for height at 27 inches and his big noggin is 75 percentile. Here are some pictures of my sweet boy.
Look at this big handsome boy! Henri turned four months on the 15th! This month I feel he really turned that corner from being an infant to more of a baby...does that make sense? He is more observant of everything around him, grabbing things, chewing everything, bouncing in his bouncer like a champ and talking...mama mia...is he talking! With the amount that Lucia's mouth is going all day now and how quiet she was when she was a baby...I am scared folks. I knew Josh and I being big blabbers would probably rub off on them...but geeze.
Seriously though...Henri is a dream. Such a calm, easy, fun baby. He smiles all day long and it just melts me. I am so in love with this little guy. This month he finally began to enjoy his bouncer and stays in it until he passes out sleeping. Physically this kid is a monster. His hands and feet are so big, he is now only in 12 month clothing and he is strong!! He is clocking in at 21.5 pounds! Lucia was 26 pounds...when she was ONE!
Guys...Henri is getting HUGE! I don't understand how he is three months already but its here and it went quick.
This boy is making gains! Kid is already 19 lbs and in 9-12 month clothing...I know...crazy.
I am so grateful for this little boy. To think, one year ago, almost to the day, Josh was told he had cancer, that we would not be able to try for children during chemo and for two years after and that having another child was probably unlikely. Well God sure turned all that around. A year ago all that ...today we have a beautiful healthy baby boy and Josh is cancer free. Thank you Jesus.
Henri is such a good baby. He sleeps SO much better than his wild sister ever did, so we feel pretty human most days. He is a big eater...obviously...and is such a sweet boy. I will catch him staring at me and smiling all the time. It is the cutest thing ever. This month he started trying to talk, smiles all the time, plays on his mat, got into his bouncer for the first time, grabs at his toys and loves cuddling!!
Here are some pictures from our three month shoot!
Check out this handsome chunk! Time is flying. Henri is already two months old and growing like a monster. We love these early months when they change so much. This month Henri has been cheesing it up with everyone. Smiles for days. He loves when you whistle songs to him and sing and he is in love with his sister! No one can make him smile like Lucia can. He loves bath time, hanging on daddy's shoulder, sleeping on mama, his play mat and the infamous snuggle puppy that Lucia was in constantly!!
He is sleeping some nice four to five hour stretches and doing... you know... all the other stuff babies do...pooping and laying around like a boss.
His two month check up proved he's gunna be a big boy. He is off the charts ...clocking in at 15.6 pounds and in the 100 percentile for weight and 80th for height. My doctor actually told me to stop feeding him so much. No way.
But he is just a dream and we love him so much.
Happy New Year Everyone! I love all the posts that pop up on January 1. Posts of reflection and hope for a new year.
For me, 2017 was a year that most certainly will not get mushed into the memory of other years past. This year stretched me, challenged me, brought me to my knees to a place of complete surrender and humility. It was a year of sorrow and a year of great joy. A year of pain and of redemption. A year of God's faithfulness and a year of His lessons.
Most of you know, the beginning of 2017 started off with a cancer diagnosis for Josh. In February, doctors told him the small lump on his shoulder was lymphoma. Not a road I thought I would ever have to travel down with my 30 year old husband. But with Jesus in our view and His promises on our lips, we trekked though months of tests, blood draws, scans and chemotherapy.
Two months prior to that day in February, we had started trying for a baby. But with that heavy diagnosis hanging over us, we thought it would not happen in the one month left before chemo. The thing with chemotherapy is that it's such a harsh treatment, doctors don't want you to even begin to try for a child until two years AFTER you complete treatment.
I remember sitting in my room with tears in my eyes talking with God telling him how I didn't want my desire for another child to overshadow was Josh was about to go through... But man I was crushed. What a mess. No sibling for Lucia and a cancer battle...what in the world is happening? But see this is the thing about God... He listens. I was recently gifted this beautiful sign with one of my favorite verses on it.
Ain't that the truth.
So I prayed and He promised...there would be no death here. Nothing will be taken away, only added. And on a Wednesday just a few short weeks before chemotherapy, I found out I was pregnant.
This baby was not just to make me happy or to give me what I wanted, this baby would be a promise of life through a battle around death. Every time the fear of how 'big' cancer could be crept into my head...the baby shook me out of that place.
By July chemotherapy was done, cancer was put to shame, and we found out we were having a boy. The next leg of the year would be preparing for the baby and getting Josh's body healthy again.
As my November 10th due date came and went, I started wondering what day Henri would be born. I had no real preference aside from not wanting him to be born on November 15th, the day my grandpa died. But when November 14th at 11:30 pm rolled around, I went into labor. Sure enough he was born on the 15th. I remember praying in the hospital and being like...God of all the days...I specifically asked for him NOT to be born today...why today?
My friend Heather just said to me yesterday...Lisa with God there are no coincidences. She's right.
November 15th a day that I normally associated with death will now be a day of celebration and life. A culmination of the year we just went through, and the promise He had given me before even one chemotherapy treatment and before I even knew I was pregnant...that Lisa...there will not be any death here but only life. In the face of death, in its shadow, I'll bring new life. Isn't that what He always does? Brings joy from mourning and makes streams in the wasteland?
I pray friends for Him to make streams in your wastelands and pathways through your wilderness and that He is as good to you all in 2018 as He has been to me.
Love you guys and Happy New Year!
One Month! This big sausage is one month already. Oh he is such a sweet boy. The first month is always kind of a blur of pooping, eating and sleeping. But gosh friends he is doing all those things really well!
He is a big guy...weighing in at almost 12 pounds already and squeezing those chunky legs into six month clothing. He has started to smile, loves walking around with daddy, love sleeping on mommy and lights up when he hears Lucia! Oh we love our sweet Henri Boy!
First month photo shoot!!!
I have to admit...I spend more time than I should researching safe and healthy products for my family.
It's not my fault though.
It takes me so much time because it is harder than you would think. From the chemicals used to fire proof a mattress, to the glue used in furniture, to the backing attached to rugs, chemicals are everywhere. It is impossible to avoid them. I try my hardest though. Even before Josh beat cancer, I was on a mission to limit our exposure as much as possible...after the diagnosis...forget about it.
As we began to prep for the the new baby, I was reminded that furniture, rugs and mattresses are some of the worst offenders...emitting harmful VOC's into the air for weeks, months and some even years.
Whats a VOC?
VOCs, according to the EPA, are “Volatile organic compounds emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.”
You may have heard of low or no-VOC house paint...you can get it anywhere. It doesn't have that typical paint smell and is generally safer...But paint is not the only thing that emits VOCs. Many things you bring into your household do. From your couch, to your mattress, to your dressers, to your new flooring...the list is exhausting. According to the EPA and other state health organizations, effects of VOC's can include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some cause cancer in animals and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Not good guys.
What I try and do, is make choices each time I buy something new to move away from harmful products and choice safer ones...even if the cost is a bit higher. Usually the safer choices are the ones that last the longest anyway. Solid wood furniture is going to stay with you a lot longer than particle board.
For big baby boy D we needed to get two beds, a dresser and a rug. Seems easy. This shouldn't take long....said Lisa to herself...WEEKS ago. Yes, it took me weeks to figure out what I was going to place into the new nursery because even though I am shooting for healthy choices...we are not millionaires. At the same time I did not want to sacrifice our health or quality to save a few bucks.
I have been asked by some of my health nut friends about what we decided to go with...so I am going to save you guys hours of research and lay it all out for ya. Little by little if we all start to make healthier choices for products the demand will go up and the price will come down....and people will begin to live more healthy lives. That is my hope!
Lets start with what took me the least amount of time. The dresser. I already knew from previous research the dresser we were going to choose. My first choice would have been a completely solid piece of wood. However finding a dresser, in white, that is completely solid wood that is under $400 is close to impossible. Even if a site will boast “solid wood” it usually has a few components, whether it is the draw bottoms or the backing that is not. The problem with furniture that is not solid wood, is that it usually contains particle board or MDF board. These products contain formaldehyde (among other things,) which emit gases into the air from the finished boards. At surprisingly low levels, these formaldehyde emissions produce a pungent odor, and they can pose a serious health risk. If you ever have looked at a piece of particle board, say at Home Depot, there is a warning inked right onto the board. No thanks.
We decided to go with IKEA's Hemnes dresser for $250 bucks. You can check it out HERE. This piece is made mostly from solid wood with just a very small portion of it being fiber board. What I love about IKEA though, is their safety standards are WAY higher than most brands. They have, and continue to, phase out harmful chemicals from their products. Some examples; IKEA has set an early voluntary ban on PVC (decided 1991) except in cables, an early ban of all organic brominates flame retardants in furniture (effective from 2000) and a ban on formaldehyde emitting paints and lacquers on all products (effective from 1993). So they do not allow formaldehyde in any of their products. I even wrote to them and grilled them a little bit more on this. They assured me the dresser I was going to purchase did not have any formaldehyde. Thank you IKEA. On top of that, BPA (Bisphenol A) was removed from all children’s products, they have removed any phthalates from the production of IKEA children’s and food contact products, they do not allow heavy metals in any of their products and chemicals such as APEOs and chlorine bleaching agents are banned from use in production. They also test VOC levels in many of their products to make sure they are emitting at very low levels.
Now don't get me wrong. I would still take a critical eye to their products and emailing them with questions like I did, can't hurt, but I have been very happy so far with the products I have purchased from them...and with how affordable they are. I think they are a nice choice.
You can read more about their products and materials HERE.
That being said...not all of their products pass my test. While at IKEA I scooped up a gray rug to put in the babies room. We were trying to get out of the store so I really didn't think too much about it. We grabbed a nice one and left. I knew, like with mostly everything I buy, I was going to “off-gas” it for a few days in the garage, so I was not too worried about it. It was small and I figured IKEA has good products, it wouldn't be an issue.
By the way...off-gassing basically means airing out your new furniture or rug or mattress or whatever...to get rid of some of the chemical smell. Research shows, while VOC's can emit for years in some products, the most toxic levels are released in the first few days to weeks of purchasing the product. So it is always a good idea to do this. Leaving it out in the sun...even better.
Anyway back to the rug. I got home and we unraveled it in the garage. Immediately, there was an over powering “new rug smell.” That “new” smell you get a whiff of when you buy a new car or in this case a new rug...is basically chemicals. So yea...its not good. I left it in the garage for a day, but the smell was just too strong for my liking. I looked it up on their website and found it was made of 100 % polypropylene with a synthetic latex backing. Ugh... I knew already those two materials were both synthetic and not ideal. While synthetic rugs are easy to clean and maintain they are exactly that, synthetic. There are chemicals that go into making them. The same with nylon and polyester. They are produced mainly from petroleum derivatives, some with over 100 chemicals added for stain and wear resistance, soil repellents, adhesives binding the backing and tufts together. I am not sure what chemicals were in this particular rug from IKEA, because I did not contact them myself about this particular rug, and while I believe they are striving to make good products, the smell put me off, so I began a search for an affordable second option.
In my searching I stumbled upon Under The Nile. You can read about them HERE. This company makes kids clothing, toys, home products and a bunch of other good stuff from 100 percent organic Egyptian cotton. They do not use any chemical finishes on their fabrics, only natural starches. They whiten their fabric using an oxygen-based whitening process and their dyes are made with metal-free colors, containing no harmful chemicals such as AZO agents.
On their site I found a very limited rug section. The rugs they sell are made from scraps from their other products. They only come in a 4x6 size, but for me that was perfect for our small nursery. The colors were bright and fun and made from 100 percent organic cotton. I was sold. I bought a white and red one to go with our Buckeyes theme and I was super happy with my purchase. The rug was around 80 bucks, which I thought was very reasonable for organic cotton. You can check the rugs out HERE.
Other good options, as opposed to organic cotton, are jute, hemp and sea grass fiber rugs. My second and third options were jute one from Amazon...which had a great price...and rugs from Hook and Loom. This company is dedicated to making rugs without chemicals or harmful toxins and they have great prices too.
Next was our new mattresses. We needed two. One for Lucia's room, because the baby would get her bed, and one for the baby's room for guests and us when we have to be in there with baby.
Man...what a pain in the butt this was. This took the longest. I was in a black hole of mattress research hell on and off for weeks. I even found myself jumping on my friend Melissa's 4-year-old's bed...not my greatest moment.
Mattresses are the worst offenders of chemicals. Some harmful things that are inside conventional mattresses are, chemical filled polyurethane foam, formaldehyde, flame retardants (which have been linked to cancer and nervous system issues) and memory-foam ( some models were found to emit over 50 chemicals, including carcinogens benzene and napthalene.) Long story short...none of this stuff is good for you.
So I was set on finding a good mattress, that was non-toxic and that wouldn't send us to the poor house. I narrowed my list down to three companies.
My Green Mattress
My first choice, originally, was Naturepedic. If you check out their website and take a look at the third-party independent studies done on their products you will find they are pretty legit. They have multiple certifications for their high quality products. They use all organic materials, no chemicals whatsoever and no synthetic materials like latex or foam. Now the reasons I didn't go with them...
My second option was My Green Mattress. I heard about them through one of the natural sites I follow. They too boast several certifications and organic materials. The model I was looking at was the Eco. This was a bit cheaper at $530 for a one-sided twin. I was pretty much sold on this one until I started reading some of the reviews again. Many people complained of the quality and a very strong odor to the mattress. I wrote the company asking about the smell. They replied by saying because they do not treat the wool that is in the top layer of the mattress, it can have an odor, but it will dissipate after a while. Reviews were contrary to that. Some said the mattress smelled like a barn. Another said they have had it for over six months and it still smells too strong to use. A couple people questioned how organic the mattress was because of the horrible smell. I am very sensitive to smells. I was not going to take that risk either.
On top of those few issues, people complained of these cotton mattresses being very hot. My daughter and husband are like heaters in the night. I didn't want to make matters worse.
My last option, and the one I went with, was the Avalon by Brentwood Homes. This was not the most natural mattress I looked into though. This was made of Belgian stretch knit for the top layer, New Zealand wool layer for fire prevention, 2-inch orthopedic foam layer and a 8-inch 5-zone Quantum®Edge Combi-Zone® Coil System.
So this mattress does have a foam layer in it. It is synthetic. So I thoroughly questioned the company about what exactly was in this foam. They assured me that the poly-foam in this mattress is not treated with the same chemicals that are used in most conventional mattresses. There are no flame retardants and the VOC emissions of their products are strictly tested. They only use water-based non-toxic glues and CertiPUR-US-certified nontoxic polyurethane foam, which is a certification that is only achieved for low VOC emission foams and foams produced without harmful chemicals. On top of that, they hold the eco-INSTITUT-label, which is a label obtained through stringent testing of emissions and materials used.
I didn't love the use of the foam, but the foam is what makes the bed a bit more comfortable and breathable, compared to the cotton alone. The foam is very firm in this particular model, so we would not have the problem of the bed breaking down over time, like some of the cotton ones. The coil system was also a bit more intricate in this bed as well.
On to the reviews. They were great. The only complaint I kept seeing was that the mattress was too firm. That was not a bad complaint to me. According to experts, children should be on firm mattresses to support their growing bones. There were no reviews of smells, or coils sticking out, or sinking feeling...nothing.
As much as I would have liked to go with an all organic product, I thought for what we were looking for, this was our best option. The price for this mattress was $520...but I asked the company for a coupon and they gave me one! (You guys should always do that. Most companies will be happy to give coupons for new customers. The rug people gave me 10 percent off too!) The total for two twin beds came to $840. About $400 cheaper than the Naturepedic would have been and $200 less than My Green Mattress.
When we got the beds I did not notice any smell to them. I still left them on the covered porch for about a week but honestly, I don't think I needed to do that at all. We have had the bed for about three weeks and so far so good! Lucia has been sleeping great and I am really happy with our purchase.
The last thing on my list was a mattress cover for Lucia. She is completely potty trained now, but still has accidents at night. I didn't want one of those accidents to destroy her new $500 mattress, so I began looking for a cover...again friends...not as easy as you would think. Most of the covers I found contained vinyl or other plastics that not only off-gas more chemical goodness... but were linked to breathing problems like asthma. Naturepedic, again, makes a great one, but for a twin it was $100 bucks. Yea..no...not spending that. The reviews on Amazon also had pictures of it leaking through to the mattress and not working very well. So I decided against them again.
After much searching I decided to go with the Velfont Organic Cover. You can check it out HERE. This cover is made with 100% organic cotton and a polyurethane membrane. This polyurethane layer has been manufactured according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which ensures no harmful substances have been used. Keep an eye out for the Oeko-Tex seal. You will see it on blankets and sheets and other fabrics. This seal is one you want to be looking for when shopping. I often see it on blankets at Target.
Finally I was done!
Here is a look at baby boys room. I love how the Buckeye colors look all together. It really came better than we thought! I have a few added touches to make ...but man am I glad to have all that buying done. Now we wait!!
What a special year for weddings! This year I got to watch two of my great friends get married, Michelle and Dustin (not to each other) I was in my sisters a few weeks ago and will be in my hometown friend, Mary's, in November.
Me and Mary go waaaaaaaaaaaay back. We became friends in my sophomore year of high school....nearly 20 years of friendship. Time goes fast. Man, do we have some stories together!
Anyway....Back to 2017. This weekend we got to shower Mary and her finance Jimmy with love and presents. It was such a fun time! I am so happy for these two! Have a look at some pictures below. I was trying to stay out of most of them because big baby D is getting HUGE! Just five weeks left!
Oh also...the flowers...aren't they beautiful? My friend Jess just started professional arraigning and she is awesome. Check her out on Instagram at "Mybeautifulflowerbyjess."
Love you guys!
This summer was a special one. It started off pretty rough, with Josh finishing up chemo, but ended wonderfully with long days at the beach, wedding celebrations and preparing for Baby Boy D.
We love the beach. Lucia talked about it all summer and it was a place where, even during chemo, gave us rest, relaxation and fun.
So naturally, we thought it very fitting to take our maternity and family pictures at the beach. We used a wonderful photographer, Kyle Willis, who caught some really special shots of us and our miracle baby boy.
Love you guys...thank you again for all your prayers this summer. It meant everything.
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!
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.