Family: Thanksgiving at the Cuneo’s

I had such a fun time at the Cuneo’s today for Thanksgiving!  The Cuneo’s are my sister-in-law’s family.  She is the eldest of 12 and has a four year old brother!  It was so neat to be able to share a table with that many people all at once.  How special!  The turkey was smoked and extremely tasty.  One was plain and one was wrapped in bacon.  There was every kind of food imaginable there, even home-cooked pumpkin pie!  Isaiah did so well and didn’t cry at all.  He slept on the way to and from also.  I was extremely impressed and so glad he could enjoy the company!


Family: List of Thanks

On Thanksgiving, it seems the perfect time to list the things for which one is thankful.  I feel I have too many to count, but I shall try.

Thanksgiving:  What Am I Thankful For?

  1. Jesus:  I have real reason to be thankful for my Lord. Not only does He provide for me all the things I have and am thankful, but He allowed me, a mere nobody, to know I am loved. That is my identity – that I am loved by Him.  Without that, my life would be a dry husk that doesn’t make any sense.  I never expected to know that.  “Jesus loves me,” were just words on a page to me until he emblazoned them onto my heart in 2015.  I found He loves not just me but every person uniquely.  I am so grateful to be His handiwork, his co-laborer and His daughter.  I didn’t think I was important enough for Him to really care about or notice me.  But, I found out, He is SO great, that He notices us who are so small.  Because He lives in my life, I have hope, excitement for the future, and a hunger to know Him more.  I wonder at the great adventure He has in store for John and I and am excited to live it!
  2. John:  John daily loves me through watching Isaiah, his warm hugs, doing things for me and our lovely chats about books.  His love and support are a constant I can depend upon.  He supports me in everything I do.  When I’m worried or scared, he prays with me and lends me strength through just being there.  He gave up his career for me.  Without John, I would be lost.  I love him to the depth of my soul and I wouldn’t be the same without him.
  3. Isaiah:  Isaiah has taught me so much, even in his short 11 months of life.  He taught me how selfish I really am, and made me trust God more.  He’s also given me a window into the world of childhood and allowed me to be a kid again.  Being a mom is not glamorous.  It is hard work, and not very fun most of the time.  But I wouldn’t trade it.  I want this.  I want Isaiah in my life and I can’t wait to see who he will grow into.
  4. Mom:  Mom watches Isaiah for me every day while I am at work.  It is a labor of love.  It is a lot of hard work!  Everyone with a baby knows it.  Because she watches him, and not a daycare, I can rest in peace, knowing he is being watched by someone I trust and who loves him.  It also gives me more flexible hours with which I can work.  Mom also comes over to my house and help me clean it on a semi-regular basis.    Mom does dishes and cleans the cat litter pans.  Mom also makes dinner every night and lets me eat some.  I would be lost without my mom.  She is a pillar in my life for good, growth and strength.
  5. Dad:  Dad mows our lawn sometimes during the summer, helps my mom with Isaiah before I come over, and is a great entertainer and granddad.  He will be Isaiah’s only living granddad.  I am so thankful that Isaiah still has a granddad to love and he does love him.  Isaiah finds dad or “Opa” as we call him, infinitely entertaining and funny.
  6. Khalid:  Khalid makes this list in a big way.  I consult him about my experiments and he is always brimming with ideas.  I am constantly amazed at his knowledge base – it’s very inspiring.  I hope that I can build one as extensive.  Khalid is to me at work what my parents are to me at home.  I am so honored that I get to collaborate with someone so ingenious.  Talking about science and batting ideas back and forth with him is one of my favorite pastimes.  It’s so mentally stimulating, engaging and fun!  Khalid is also extremely supportive of me, of John, of Isaiah and my career.  I appreciate that he understands when family matters have to trump work, and doesn’t get upset.  With him at the helm, I can know that my future in science is in good hands, the lab is in good hands, and I can focus on my experiments in peace knowing all is right with the world.
  7. Brenda:  My friend and mentor Brenda Harmon helped shape me into the person I am today.  She was my organic chemistry lab teacher, but taught us how to think by making our own protocols and how to be true scientists.  She is the reason I fell in love with the chemistry behind the biology.  And she is the reason I didn’t quit science when it got down near impossible to keep going.  Without her, I wouldn’t be in grad school now.  She continues to be my best friend, one of my biggest supporters, and I love her to death.
  8. Pam:  There is no person I know like Pam Martin.  She has the most beautiful spirit in the world and I am so lucky to call her friend.  She prays with me about anything and everything in life, and I share and talk about with her all my deep ponderings on life and hear hers in turn.  We share our dreams, our fears our joys.  With her prayers behind me, I feel protected and loved.  She is such a support!
  9. Graduate school:  I cannot tell you what graduate school means to me.  I am so thankful to be in it, getting the opportunity to pursue my dream of being on the cutting edge of knowledge and even getting paid for it!  That is all I have ever wanted:  not a specific position (like being a PI), not a specific place (like Berkeley or MIT), not even the degree itself.  I just want to be on the cutting edge of knowledge as long as I can, and I am doing that.  My most intense moment of euphoria in my whole life was the Emory visitation weekend, when I was listening to Khalid describe the project I am working on now and have helped make a reality.  It was in that moment that I realized that what I had been working toward so long – doing research – I would finally be able to do!  I could finally study and experiment whatever I wanted!  I had freedom!  I could do real research!  I was a valuable, recruitable resource!  My dreams were becoming reality!  I already have my dreams, even if I never get anything else.  Graduate school has also given me friends.  I didn’t have  a lot of friends growing  up, being shy, and none in college, because I studied too much – but now – in grad school, I actually have friends in my classmates, and it has been a real joy to share life with them.
  10. ARCS:  The ARCS scholarship is an incredible blessing.  It has allowed me to stay afloat, with a baby in tow.  It was extremely validating.  I felt such relief, that I could be among such an elite crew of people honored with the award.  My sponsors Sara Jean and Fred Burke are wonderful and amazing people.  I am so blessed to know them.  Their support has meant the world to John and I.  It has also been awesome to get to go to events where I can network with some truly awesome scientists, feel honored and valued, for who I am and what I do.  Those moments can be rare in science.  And I value every one.
  11. My first paper:  My first paper was recently published as a “just accepted” manuscript in ACS Chemical Biology, as I am sure everyone knows, as I cannot stop talking about it.  Having a first author paper has been a dream of mine ever since I was a freshman in college.  Now, thanks to everyone’s help and support, it has become a reality.  I cannot describe my joy at seeing my work for the last four years in print, not to mention that, at least 60% of the paper is completely my original words!  Khalid helped shape the words, and he changed some things, but much of the writing stayed true.  He did not completely re-write it.  It remains my own.  That makes me so proud.
  12. My house:  I love our house.  John and I waited a long time before buying one, and we bought one large enough to support multiple kids in the future.  I am so grateful to have a place to call my own and to raise a family in.  I never dreamed I would own a place like our home that is so fancy-looking and great!  I love it.  It’s perfect for us.
  13. My computer(s):  I have a desktop and a laptop.  Both these computers were purchased to be top-of-the-line and fast.  I love fast computers.  Most everything I love doing is on a computer:  writing, blogging, reading science articles, building websites, some minor gaming when I can – it’s my connection to knowledge and to social media and the rest of the world.  Therefore, I love my computers and am so thankful for them every day.
  14. My cats:  I have always lived with cats but never had my own until recently, when we purchased three orange kittens in 2016.  Having an orange kitten in particular was a childhood dream of mine.  Our cats also taught me responsibility, similar to having a baby, but less work.  Still work though – having my own cats is a lot different than growing up with them.  They are more special and also more work!  And I do love them dearly.  I can tell them apart by their meow’s and they each have their own unique personalities.
  15. Books:  I love books.  I’m glad they exist.  I love reading them, especially about God, and getting transported into other worlds not my own.  I love trying to write books.  I love collecting them and putting them on shelves.  Books are all around just awesome.

This list is just a sprinkling of the things that are dearest to my heart, that I think about all the time and for which I am most grateful.  I wouldn’t be who I am today without these people and things.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my life – every one of you – whether I know you in passing or not.  I am so grateful for each and every one of you.  Life is so much more exciting when it is shared.

Family: Stories of Isaiah

There’s a lot that goes into caring for a baby.  I had no idea the magnitude of this when I was pregnant.  It involves near continuous diaper changes and feedings, and then entertaining the baby throughout the day.  I related some of that story on my previous website in the Family blog here.  Ever want to know what it’s like to live with a 10 month old?  I did before I had him.  Here is a day in the life of Isaiah. 


Through the week, 7 am – 7 pm my mom cares for him – most of the day.  I am extremely fortunate and blessed that she does this for me.  It allows me to go to work with peace of mind.  We used to have a camera on him during the day, that I could pop onto and watch him while I was at work.  It has since been sitting in his room though and I keep forgetting to bring it back to my mom’s so she can start it up again.

Bedtime Routine

When I get home, it’s usually 7 or 7:30  pm, and I come home to mom and dad’s where Isaiah is, hold him and play with him some, and eat dinner with my parents.  They kindly provide the opportunity for me to eat dinner with them 99% of the time.  I feed Isaiah his dinner – usually either a bottle, some baby food or both – then bring him home around 8 p.m., at which point he goes to bed.

When I take Isaiah to bed, I have a routine I do with him every night.  I swing him into bed, counting to 10 in German.  This is something my mom used to do with me when I was little.  I can still count to 100 in German.  I then read him 10 verses of a Psalm from the KJV Bible.  He ignores this — rolling around in his crib and exploring — but I like to do it.  Perhaps I’ll switch to a more kid friendly translation someday when he’s older.  I was hoping he could get used to the KJV if I read it to him.  It was what I grew up on and I became fond of it.  I’m not a die-hard though.  I read other versions.  We are up to Psalm 88 currently.

Then, I lay him down in bed (since he’s been crawling around) give him his blanket, and always say the following to him (more or less):

“Isaiah it’s time for sleeping now!  Remember, Jesus loves you very much.  He made you.  And I love you.  And your Dad loves you.  And your Oma and Opa love you.  And your Grandma Jackie loves you.  And your Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle James love you.  And your Aunt Casey and Uncle Matt love you.  And we’re all going to take good care of you!  Now, sleep well!  I love you very much Isaiah.”

He always smiles at all the “I love you’s” and seems to listen.  Most days, he goes right to sleep or at least doesn’t make a peep when I turn out the light and close the door.  I’m so lucky.  We had a spate of time where he would cry when we left, and we had to sit by him until he settled down for 5-10 min before it was safe to leave.  However, most of the time, he’s doing pretty good again.  I count that a huge blessing.  Soon, I hope to be reading him a bedtime story every night too.

Saturday:  A day with Isaiah and what we do together

Saturday is the day I watch Isaiah full time.  He usually lets me sleep in until 8 a.m.  Then, I’ll roll out of bed and feed him.  Isaiah loves to crawl and explore everything.  He also loves to go places he shouldn’t.  Favorite activities include stuffing his mouth full of carpet fuzz that he finds pieces of on the floor, or going for the cat scratching posts and eating the cardboard pieces off the floor, or playing with the cords hanging out of the lamp or the Playstation.  He once got interested in the cat pheromone plug-ins I have in the wall.  I tried to get him away from those and at last succeeded.  He also has safe toys.  He likes his cars the best, rolling them around on the floor.  Isaiah is also constantly babbling.  He loves practicing talking.  It’s kind of cute.  He says “cat” pretty well, and I wonder if he connects the word “cat” with our cats yet.  He likes flipping through books too – especially if he can turn the pages.  He loves turning pages.

If he is in the kitchen, he’ll typically make a beeline for the cat food bowls and the litter pan.  If he is in the dining room, he loves the computer cords, and also sifting through the mail and eating it.  John has a box of sprue – plastic Warhammer model pieces in a box – and Isaiah loves to go over to it, take them all out and throw them everywhere.  

Sometimes, he gets frustrated at a toy or if a wire doesn’t move like he wants, and he’ll cry.  He’s a pretty good eater.  We started him on vegetables first.  I admit, though I like the idea, I haven’t really gone with baby led weaning, because it’s not the way my mom and dad grew up and while – I wouldn’t mind experimenting – my mom, who watches him 90% of the time, can’t stomach the idea.  I don’t feel like I can do it without her support.  However, Isaiah has had plenty of fruit in a mesh feeder.  He won’t eat any beef baby food though – particularly the Gerber kind I used to like as a kid – nope – he hates it.  Won’t open his mouth at all once he’s tasted it.  But he eats peas fine, he’ll stomach green beans and his favorite is carrots, ironically enough.  He also likes fruits.  He’ll eat mixed fruits and mixed veggies.  There’s nothing really he refuses except beef.

Sometimes, we’ll go on walks in the stroller – though we’ve done that less of late.  We used to do it all the time when he was younger.  While watching Isaiah, I’ll often turn on a movie.  Or, if I’m brave, I’ll try to get house work done:  the dishes, cleaning the floor from puffs he’s dropped (he loves puffs! – it’s a cereal for babies), the laundry.  I try to carry him with me to the laundry room and bed room when I do the laundry.  

John gets home about 4 p.m. and often John will help watch him at that point – he’s so sweet like that.  Isaiah loves playing with John.  John is great at making baby talk and baby noises with him that make Isaiah laugh. 

On Saturdays, I usually always give Isaiah a bath.  I still give him baths in the sink using a baby bath tub.  I tried the bathroom tub, but it breaks my back.  Painful.  A lot of times on Saturdays, mom and dad will come over and make breakfast and help me clean the house, which is a HUGE blessing, let me tell you!  I can’t describe how appreciative I am of all they do for me constantly.


On Sunday, John lets me sleep in and he feeds Isaiah instead of me.  I’ll roll out of bed about the same time though around 8 or 8:30 a.m.  We usually make Pillsbury crescents or rolls for breakfast.  Then, we go to church.  John will come – or if he has sinus trouble or a bad week at work – he’ll stay home – and I’ll take Isaiah to church with me.  I give him to Brittany, the usual nursery watcher, and she knows all the things to make him calm. When he was younger, he didn’t make a peep in the nursery.  He would always sleep and was such a good baby.  Lately though, he’s been a more fussy customer.  However, he likes music.  There’s a favorite musical toy they give to him that makes him stop crying.  He also like it when Brittany will take him out into the halls and walk up and down with him.  He likes to be held and / or moving at all times.  If she puts him down, he won’t last for more than a minute without getting upset.  He also likes to talk to her badge, which she thought was funny.

After church, we will usually eat lunch with Jackie Petree.  Then, most times, Jackie will watch Isaiah from 12 – 4:30 pm and this fact allows me to finish the house work – scoop the cat litter pans – which I do once a week, and finish the laundry, fold it and iron John’s shirts for the week.

And that is a usual week with Isaiah!  More soon!