Tuesday, February 28, 2012

grammar lesson: assure, ensure, insure

These three words are very different in my mind. VERY different. And it drives me crazy when they are used incorrectly in official documents. I forgive layperson speech (but I still notice it). In the last few days I have seen "insure" used for "ensure" multiple times on documents from organizations that support higher education. Drives me crazy.

Here's the thing. Most people don't understand the difference between these words. Let me help you out.

Assure: This is the easiest one. Assure means to tell someone that something is true, or instill confidence in what you say, putting their worries to rest. I assure you that I will not eat your ice cream when you leave the room. (Muahaha. Sometimes people lie.)

Ensure: This more or less means to actually make sure something happens or doesn't happen. I am going to take my ice cream with me to ensure that Molly does not eat it while I am gone. (Boo.)

Insure: While this seems very similar to ensure, just think of insurance. No one is going to make sure something does or doesn't happen. They are just going to provide you with monetary backing or similar compensation in the event that said "thing" does or doesn't happen. I am going to insure my ice cream, so that if Molly eats it, the bank will pay me back for my losses.

While I'd guess that ensure and insure have the same etymology and may have been used interchangeably in the distant past, the connotation that accompanies the word insure nowadays is undeniably monetary in nature, while ensure does not carry this connotation. So I say they should be distinct and not interchangeable. That is my opinion.

Here is an example of "insure" that I read today:

In order to insure the confidentiality of the letters of recommendation, this set of documents should not
Who can tell me what is wrong with that sentence? I can assure you that it is wrong.

Do you agree or disagree?

Grammar is often subject to debate, you know. (But I'll win that debate, because all things on my blog are based on my opinion. Muahaha.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

what i wore

It seems the trend among bloggers is to post what you wear. You know, show off your fashion creativity or something like that. So I thought you would all like to know what I wore this weekend and be inspired and impressed by my adorable style.

1. No, I did not wear a bowl on my head. This is the lamp behind me. I just have mad photography skills like that.
2. Day-old hair. Too broke to buy this (best curl product I've tried) so I use the next best cheap thing: conditioner and gel mixed in my hand. It actually works really well.
3. No bra, of course. I really only need a bra in order to look like I have boobs. So if I'm not going out, there's zero point in wearing one.
4. No wedding ring, because, you know, I lost it.
5. Yes, the room is "cleaned up" (meaning the toys have been thrown in the general direction of where they should be).
6. Costco Kirtland brand socks. The only way to go.
7. Pajama pants I put on just for this picture, because a picture of me running around in a sweatshirt and underoos would not have been appropriate. And, yes, those underoos were on inside out. By the time I noticed, I was too lazy to switch them.
8. Speaking of the sweatshirt, it started out as Christian's sweatshirt. Then I stole it, because that's what good wives do. Big comfy sweatshirt? Yes, please!

Admit it. You wish you dressed this cute.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

for little boys and girls

Have you seen the Tentacles Shirt from sweetpea and pie? I love it.

My second favorite right now is the Bat Symphony. Quick. Someone put this on your baby!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the story behind my new job


How I ended up with my new position in actually a series of meaningful events, so I want to be sure I record them. 

(You're welcome to read along, but I'm mostly writing this for me.)

Let me say first that I wholeheartedly believe in coincidence. Some people say that everything happens for a reason. I'm not one of those people. Sometimes things just happen. However, I do know that other times it is undeniable that things happen for a very specific reason. This timeline was not coincidence.

Late January: I was well into the application process for a full-time job in Stanford's Pathology department. The job looked interesting, I had an inside recommendation, and I was completely at peace with the idea of committing a few more years to working full time. And I do mean COMPLETELY. I felt great about it.

Friday, Jan 27th: One of our HR staff (without knowing he wasn't supposed to) distributed a half-time job posting from the Center of Latin American Studies here at Stanford. Note: In the 7 years I have been at Stanford, our HR group has never sent around a job posting outside our department. The position looked great, but I deleted it from my email without much thought. Half time just wasn't feasible for us and not worth getting excited about.

Also Friday, Jan 27th: Christian put in his 2-week notice at Banana Republic. We actually needed that little bit of extra income, but we both felt strongly that we needed him home more.

Monday, Jan 31st: Following my second interview with Pathology, my friend here at work struck up a conversation about what our ideal jobs would be. During our conversation, I remembered the CLAS job posting and pulled it up out of my trash folder and told her all about it. The more I read, the harder my heart pounded. I couldn't let it go. I thought about it all day, and I applied for the position that afternoon. I'm not even sure why.

Over the next few days, I scrambled around my office to see if I had any connections to CLAS. All the time I kept laughing at myself, thinking, "I can't even do 50%. What am I doing??"

Wednesday, Feb 1st: I read this post (and one or two others posted the same day) about doing what you love. I felt like they were written for me. Just reading the CLAS position sparked a long-lost passion deep in my heart. I had forgotten about my Spanish studies, the literature, the language, the people, the historic and current events. I had forgotten where I belong!

Thursday, Feb 2nd: After asking around a bit, I found that our Admissions Director knows the CLAS director quite well, and he called over for me to get more details about the position. I could barely contain my excitement. 

Also Thursday, Feb 2nd: I found out I would be called back for the final round of interviews for the Pathology position. It was suddenly very apparent that a full-time position in Pathology wasn't where I was supposed to be, so I promptly (and respectfully) withdrew my application. This was a leap of faith, but I could not deny what I felt in my heart.

Monday, Feb 6th: I was invited to interview for the half-time position at CLAS the following week! I was just about hyperventilating by then. How was I going to manage only working part time?? Even so, I wanted this so badly that I talked to my current supervisor about working half time in both departments (since we wouldn't be able to afford the increased health care costs if I went down to half time). She has always been very supportive of me and knows my ultimate career goals, and she said she would think about whether they could accommodate me half time.

Friday, Feb 10th: Christian interviewed for a 1-year position at Google. This popped up out of nowhere. The interview left him with mixed feelings and a lot of anxiety about those mixed feelings. This also happened to be his last day of work at Banana Republic.

Monday, Feb 13th: I interviewed for the CLAS position. I wanted it so badly but felt by the end of the interview that surely they would find someone more qualified than I.

Wednesday, Feb 15th: Christian was offered the position at Google and accepted. This decision was not easy as it involved giving up a fixed position for a 1-year (albeit higher paying) contract position. It involved a lot of prayer, but we took that leap.

Thursday, Feb 16th: My supervisor told me that she could not guarantee part-time work for me in this department. So if I chose to accept the CLAS position, I would have to do it knowing I would only have half-time work. I cried a bit that night. I wondered when I would ever get to do what I want. I wondered how many positions I had to give up in order to play it safe and provide for our family. (My ESL class, a potential SJSU teaching position, and now this...) It was a terrible evening. It may sound melodramatic, but I could not convince myself to do anything that evening. I watched a movie on the couch with Graham. I cried a bit. All the reasons I couldn't take this job were piling up higher and higher and higher until I wanted to shut off my brain. I was completely enveloped in a dark cloud over not being able to accept this job if I did, in fact, get an offer. I went to bed at 9pm in a complete haze.

Friday, Feb 17th: I woke up with my mind racing a mile a minute once again, but now my mind was clear. I mean CLEAR. All the reasons I could take this job started to flood my mind. The finances suddenly worked out. I prayed about it again. And a very clear thought came into my mind: "I make it work. I always make it work. When I want something badly enough, I work my butt off to get it. Why would this be any different?" I went to work confident. And at 10:30am I got a phone call... and was offered the position.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Christian's new job

Celebrating our new jobs at Real Ice Cream. Next time we go, we'll be sure to get dinner in addition to the ice cream.
Try the mango kulfi. Yum.
We'll start off the "new job" posts by congratulating Christian on his new job! It's a 1-year contract position with Google. Of course, we're hoping it opens some doors at Google, but, in the very least, it will be a strong addition to his resume. Truth be told, I know practically nothing about his new position:

  1. He will be working right next to the Steven's Creek Trail. I am terribly jealous. He will probably never use it. This is a hard pill to swallow. However, I do have plans to take the boys by on one of my days off and fly kites on his lunch break. Doesn't that sound lovely?
  2. He has access to all the on-site Google benefits.  Fitness center, free meals, massages (?!). He will likely have to use the fitness center often in order to counteract the free meals.
  3. He'll be doing user support for Google business apps. I'm not even sure what this entails. So we'll leave it at that.
  4. In fact, I don't even know his schedule.
So there you have it. Maybe I'll give you a recap once he's been working there for a while and I have a clue about what he's doing.

Congrats. Christian!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

the leap

Drumroll please...

Christian and I both accepted new job offers within 3 days of each other!

#1: On Wednesday, Christian was offered a 1-year position at Google!
#2: On Friday, I was offered a position at Stanford's Center for Latin American Studies!

  1. Is your new job full time? Nope! I will be only be working 2 1/2 days a week!
  2. What will you be doing? Mostly serving as a task manager for a grant project: Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative (SHREI). I'll share more about SHREI later this week.
  3. What will Christian be doing at Google? He'll be providing Google user support for Google Business Apps. Side note: Stanford just signed a contract with Google to use Google Apps for our calendaring and email hosting, so it was meant to be. ;)
Making this jump was huge. Christian's position is a 1-year position, and mine is a 3-year position (contingent on grant money), so I'm sure you can imagine the anxiety that accompanied our decisions.

We prayed about it. I ran the numbers...over and over and over (as I am prone to do). We prayed about it some more. And then we decided to take the leap, trust our cape, and make it happen.

Christian starts his new position a week from Monday, and I start mine the week after (continuing part time in my current position until a replacement is hired). 

I can't wait to tell you more about my new job. For now, I'll just leave you with a picture of Bolivar House, where I will soon be spending (half of) my days. Aren't you jealous?

Source: CLAS Facebook Page

Friday, February 17, 2012

doing it: taking the leap and trusting my cape


Remember when I posted about Simple Lovely's "trusting your cape"?

Well I am on the verge of taking a leap of my own. I have been on a constant pendulum swing between panic attacks and sheer excitement every few hours for weeks. It is exhausting. Can't wait to tell you about it. (Trust me--it's way more exciting for me than it will be for you.)

But you'll have to wait a few more days.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

why i don't do oranges

Before we begin, let's make it clear that we're not talking about cuties. We're talking about oranges. I've got a beef to pick with cuties, too, but that's for another day.

Oranges take effort. So much time to peel them. And your fingers get covered in that strange chalky orange coating. (And for someone who doesn't like to leave her desk, walking to the bathroom to rinse the orangey mess is a chore.) And then after you've spent all this time peeling the orange, it seems 1 of 3 oranges aren't even any good! And if you slice them soccer-team style and bite into them, the fibers get stuck in your teeth. 

So, you see, the effort to benefit ratio just isn't high enough for me.

I don't like those odds. I'll stick with apples.

But today my coworker brought in oranges from her tree and convinced me that they are oh so sweet and worth the work. It took some convincing, but I gave in. 

It took work. It was super messy. But, oh, was it sweet. Yum.

So if you can convince me that the orange you're giving me is good, I will put in the work. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

wishing you lots of mushy love

To my friends, family, and other people who make me smile: 

Wishing you lots of mushy love from everyone you hold dear to your heart!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

kissy kissy

took the picture the other day to send it to Christian. Kissy kissy. Then I looked at it and thought, "Dang. My skin looks good." And it does. I'm not wearing any makeup in that picture. (And, for the record, that's a mole by my nose. Not a zit.) Did you know that in the last, oh, 16 years my skin has only been acne free while I was pregnant? Pregnancy does something to my skin. It makes it beautiful. I don't mind the chipmunk cheeks so much. I just bask in the blemish-free skin.

So what does that mean? Am I pregnant?

Heck no. This is no announcement, people. I'm on sabbatical from baby-making.

A few weeks ago I decided to do an experiment. My skin is normally super oily. They say that oily skin is just super dry skin compensating by producing lots of oil. I don't buy it. If having oily skin means I have dry skin, then what do people with dry skin have? Riddle me that, dermatologists.

Anyway, I started washing my face with baking soda. Baking soda popped into my mind one day out of the blue, so I started using it. And I loved it right away. (You may think it sounds harsh, but sometimes life calls for some tough love.) After a day or two I also started putting Benzoyl Peroxide on my skin after washing it. Within a couple days the skin around my lips got really dry. Then my lips started cracking. Then my cheeks got really dry. And my neck started wrinkling up like a scaly lizard when I'd turn my head. But I forged ahead. You can't just give up mid way through an experiment, right? I used lots of the thick Eucerin lotion and my skin soaked it up like a sponge. And the blemishes on my skin started drying up and disappearing. Then my neck and cheeks started peeling and the skin rubbed off every time I washed it. Fascinating.

And do you know what I was left with? The best skin I've ever had in my non-pregnant adult life.

I'm still using washing it with baking soda but only using the benzoyl peroxide once a day. It's also no longer oily.

In fact, I was running late this morning and didn't shower. In fact, I didn't even wash my face. It's 9pm now and my face is still not oily.

I think I may have found just what my skin needs. No biggie. I'm only 30.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

best salsa partner ever

Had a salsa party with the kids in the living room the other night while the pizza was cooking.
Graham is the best salsa partner ever.

Friday, February 10, 2012

hills make running more pleasant

It's true: hills make running more pleasant. Flat is boring. 
Do you know what else makes running more pleasant? Cows.

Running up the back side of the dish trail.

My running buddies.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

my favorite skirt

 I love this skirt. I'd wear it every day, but people would notice. It's not exactly subtle. Got it at Old Navy when we were in Miami. Makes me miss the shirt I got at the same time. It never made it home. We have no idea where it went. (Don't mind the stupid look on my face below. It just shows the shirt. Not like I can retake the picture. You know, since the shirt never made it home with me.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things right now...

Rolling cart that I found on the sidewalk in San Francisco.
(And, of course, the Design Sponge book in our magazine basket)

Hanging lamp. My mom tried to sell it at a garage sale years ago, but ended up keeping it.
It was just what I needed. I love the gold on the inside of the shade.

Collection of things on top of my piano.
Modge-podged map onto an old canvas. Self portrait of my aunt from when she was in college. 

My grandma's old kitchen canisters (wheat flour, white flour, sugar) and the canister my sister gave me . It houses popcorn kernels. Homemade kettle corn is a staple in my house.

Homemade vanilla extract. Just bought more bourbon, because I'm going to run out soon!

What do you love in your house?

Monday, February 6, 2012

train table

Christian got this train table for the boys. One of those awesome Craigslist finds. The boys absolutely love it. We spent about a couple days trying to keep them from climbing on it until I looked at Christian and said, "Do we really care if they play on top of it?" We agreed that we didn't actually care. (If I were a kid, I'd be all over that thing!) So they are free to play on top of it. One of these days they'll fall off. I'm not too worried about it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Graham fell asleep in my arms as we walked around Costco the other day. It's been a long time since he has slept in my arms. Loved it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

a day in the life

Inspired by Damaris over at Kitchen Corners, here is a day in our life...

4:30am - I hear the boys' door open and shut. Graham makes his way over to my side of the bed (always my side) and I lift him up between us. He snuggles in and we go back to sleep. Except Christian. He never woke up in the first place.

5:00am - Graham cries, wimpers, or kicks one of us in the face. Usually Christian. It just works that way. I think it's only fair since Christian doesn't wake up to the boys making noise at night. It takes a swift kick to the face. We go back to sleep.

5:15am - My phone alarm goes off. I fumble around to push snooze before it wakes up Graham. I don't want to get up and do yoga. I go back to sleep.

5:24am - My alarm goes off again. Last week I would have gotten up. This week I'm too lazy. I turn the alarm off.

6:37am - Graham wimpers, starts to stir, sits up, and crawls over me and off the bed to go play in the living room. I go back to sleep.

6:42am - Graham comes back to my side of the bed carrying two trains and says, "Food?" I get up. And I make Christian get up. Since we're already running super late. Liam starts calling to us from his crib so we go get him. He is all smiles. Always.

6:45am - Christian makes the boys breakfast while I shower. Graham doesn't want to eat. Liam eats everything in sight.

7:15am - I'm dressed and ready to help. We tag team getting the boys dressed, finishing packing their diaper bag, scrounging up food to send in their lunches, and get our own lunches together. Liam wants to be held. Graham wants to be held. We tell them we can't hold them but we do anyway. It slows us down.

7:40am - We herd the boys out the door and into the car where we have a quick family prayer and Christian runs back in the house to get himself ready. I run back in the house to grab pacifiers. Then back in to find my phone. Then I text Rocio to tell her we're on our way.

7:50am - We drive in almost complete silence. I zone out. The boys look out the window. Sometimes I feel like a bad mom for not taking advantage of the time to interact or teach them something. Then I remember that we're all perfectly content riding along in silence, so I don't stress about it. Everybody needs quiet time.

8:05am - I pull up to Rocio's, pluck the pacifiers out of the boys' mouths, and drop them off with a quick kiss. They are super happy to be there. I plug my phone in and listen to talks by our church leaders for the rest of my drive. Sometimes they make me emotional. Sometimes they are so boring that I zone out.

8:45am - I park at Stanford, put on mascara in the car, and head in to work.

12:00pm - I tell myself I should go running. Last week I would have gone. This week I'm lazy.

2:00pm - I tell myself I should go running. That 6-miler last week felt great. But this week I'm lazy.

5:00pm - I'm out. I head to my car, plug in my phone, and head back out to get the boys.

5:45pm - Rocio opens the door and two tiny balls of energy come barreling out so excited to see me. This has got to be the best part of my day. Hugs and kisses and Graham saying "bye" to everyone before I even have a chance to say "hi." They blow Rocio kisses as we drive away. Liam knows how to blow kisses now. It's the cutest thing ever.

6:15pm - Home sweet home. The boys are hungry. I have no dinner plan. Grilled cheese sandwiches it is. I send a text to Christian to tell him I love him. He's at job #2 and won't be home until after 10. The boys are happy, grumpy, happy, grumpy. It's the witching hour. Graham takes a bite of his sandwich and runs around the kitchen. Comes back for another bite and runs around the living room. Liam shoves so much food in his mouth I'm worried he's going to choke on it. But he just smiles with that big full mouth and tries to drink from his sippy cup (as if he didn't already have enough in his mouth).

7:00pm - Liam is dressed for bed and I carry him to his room. He puts his head on my left shoulder and wraps his left arm tightly around my neck. He does this every time we head to his room to go to bed. It makes me melt. I say a quick prayer, lay him down, and walk out.

8:00pm - I convince myself to stop messing around on the internet and read books with Graham. Then I change his third poopy diaper of the night. What is going on?

8:15pm - I take Graham down the hall to bed. He waves goodnight to the TV, to our wedding picture, to his picture, to the wall on one side of the hallway, then to the other wall, to his reflection in the mirror, and to the bathroom. Then we say "shhhh. Liam is sleeping." and go in his room. We say a prayer and tuck him in. He complains. I leave.

8:20pm - Graham comes out and creeps down the hallway as if I didn't hear him come out. He laughs when he makes it to the living room, and I take him back in and close the door. He stays and goes to sleep. It's a miracle.

8:25pm - I check blogs. I know I shouldn't. I write 5 short blog posts and schedule them to publish over the next week. I'm quite impressed with myself. I keep thinking I should clean up instead, but my blog has been neglected lately.

9:53pm - I'm still online. This is dumb. So much for being productive. Then I realize I've just documented a day in my life and that makes me happy. It was worth it. I plan to sign off just in time to run around and tidy up so that Christian will think I was productive. Can't wait for him to get home. That's the other best part of my day. He gets home early and I'm still online. Oops. It's okay. He doesn't care.

Friday, February 3, 2012

a healthy glow

This is us on our way home every day--with a healthy red glow of brake lights. My boys are commuters. I drive home from Mountain View on El Camino, because that way I don't have to pay attention to anything but the brake and gas pedals. Going on two different freeways and making my way back and forth from carpool lanes to exits is way too much paying attention for the end of the day (and doesn't get us home any faster). I'd rather stop at occasional stop lights and look back at my cute boys in the back seat. Don't I look super excited in that second picture? Totally zoned out. Brake pedal. Gas pedal. Brake pedal. Gas pedal. It's so boring it's relaxing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

doing what you want to do now

Source: Simple Lovely
Today I came across this post over at Simple Lovely about taking a leap and "trusting your cape." I am inspired by people who take a chance and leave their job to pursue their passions.

But how do they make it happen?

Is it really only possible for people who have a large savings?
...for people who have a spouse who can support the family?
...for people who don't have kids?

Really. How do they do it?

My heart aches to drop everything and pursue my passions (which, I'll have you know, include just being with my kids), but my brain knows I have a family to support.

When you know you need to be responsible, is it ever time to just start doing what you want to do?

I am a big advocate of being happy wherever you are in life. I have my days (weeks? months?) of wishing things were different, but I also recognize that I'm quite blessed and have plenty of reasons to be happy with my life just as it is. And I do my best to ignore that grass that always seems greener on the other side and be happy with the grass growing right under my feet.

So how do you find a balance between being happy with your life the way it is and "trusting your cape" as you leap off toward something more?

{Update Feb. 2nd: Wow. Is everyone posting about this topic his week? Design Mom just posted this today.}