the city of angels

surprise! josh is going to ucla. absolutely, positively, the final decision is finally made. not ONCE (since we've made this decision a few times by now) but definitely for ALL. that's right, we're leaving utah on friday, august 21st, to arrive in our new home in los angeles on saturday the 22nd. (the photos are of ucla's campus, from march when josh went out to visit and interview at ucla...)
some of you are imagining we're heading to duke and north carolina next month. yes, that was plan A. then, ucla complicated things by offering josh a sweet scholarship. so we thought about it and decided that it was already a close decision before, now the scales tipped in favor of the west coast. then, to complicate things FURTHER, we thought we'd wait and see if duke would pony up. of course, neither of us thought they would. these mba programs have about 20% acceptance rates, and given that they still admit about 400 students a year...well, they obviously don't exactly need to pay people to get them to show up. and competition is fierce for any funding they do offer. so we just threw that in for entertainment's sake. lo and behold, duke came back with lots of $$! i should have known better than to underestimate my hard-working 4.0/780-on-the-GMAT/Goldman Sachs-loves-him smarty-pants. of course they're willing to pay to get him there! unfortunately, they were willing to pay almost exactly what ucla was (despite having no idea of his other offer). that put us back to square one. good thing is by now we have housing and schools for the kids set up in both places. we've been in touch with people in josh's program and their spouses and people from church. etc. so we would be set either way...

so why ucla? who knows! honestly, it's one of those decisions between two great things you just have to make. we have no doubt both places would have been awesome and love so many things about each of them. one thing we did learn is that josh can get in-state tuition in california. random, since for the past 12 years he's lived in hawaii, mongolia, and utah. but since he went to all four years of high school in orange county, CA and graduated from fountain valley high--he still qualifies. so that will still save us $15k over the 2 years. not exactly petty cash. other bonuses: relative proximity to family and friends; perfect weather; close to beach (josh is a major warm weather/beach nut and already has our 6 year old joshua convinced that he needs to learn to surf ASAP); another HUGE factor is that we think california may be a good place for us long term. lots of job opportunities for josh, lots of great phd programs for me, etc. so it simply makes sense to network and build contacts there. of course we're also aware of the high cost of living and the crazy congestion...but i'm planning on winning the lottery, so we're not going to worry about the first one too much. and the second, well, lots of people also means lots of opportunities. and from living in salt lake (granted, a tiny fraction of the size of LA) we've learned that it doesn't matter if you're in a city, in fact we LOVE it, as long as you have your neighborhood, a reasonable commute, and have some escape to the outdoors (and we'll be super close to the beach and pretty close to mountains--sweet!) so that's the call.
we'll be out in exactly 10 weeks folks. FINALLY! woohoo! come visit!
and here's a little of my hippie girl joni mitchell singing the praises of california: "it's too old and cold and settled in it's way here...oh but california...california!...i might have stayed on with him there, but my heart cried out for you california...oh california...will you take me as i am, strung out on another man...california i'm a-comin home"


three men and a lady

lately i've been thinking how fun it is being the only girl in this family--me and my three boys. there's a few reasons for this. one is how much of our activities revolve around sports. joshua just finished jr. jazz, which was a major hit. he has started getting pretty aggressive and playing defensively--it's so fun to watch!

now he's back at soccer--practice starts up again this week (which i announced this afternoon to great cheers). and jacob has just started his first soccer team, which is the cutest thing ever.

Then there's all the basketball games,

(go byu!)

wrestling meets, bike riding, and of course march madness complete with in-house dunk contests...

(sorry, but i think this white boy can jump)

the fun never ends! i like sports well enough, but for me it's more of a social event. i don't really know or care much about what's going on on the field/court/etc unless it involves one of my boys scoring (or getting hurt--then i REALLY care.) right now march madness is in full gear, and the boys watch and play basketball while i'm off studying. it's so cute to me! and although i may miss out on some girl things, these boys definitely let me know i'm special. my favorite is when jacob says "i love you mom" out of the blue. then i say "i love you too jacob." without fail he responds "i love you too mom." cutest thing.

then there's me, the sole female of the house. this means that i get to be something i never got to be growing up with a 3 sisters. i get to be the princess! i get to be the girl. when i get a pedicure, my boys are fascinated by my toes--the things girls do! when i wear fishnet stockings, it kind of creeps them out, but i tell them it's a girl thing. when i wear big earings, they say "cute earings mom!" when i buy new shoes or clothes, they say "girls just need a lot of stuff, huh mom?" i get to have the car warmed up for me, doors opened. i also get to be moody. sorry, but it's part of the package and sometimes mom needs alone time. i get to take bubble baths and eat gourmet chocolates. it's wonderful being a woman! the funny thing is, this is a new found joy for me. i've never been a tom boy, but never a girly-girl either. i'm pretty practical and down-to-earth. but i'll tell you what, some of the finest things in life are monopolized by woman kind, and i am taking full advantage.

so if i end up the lone girl in this family, i'm perfectly happy with that. my boys are FUN! besides, if a little girl ever comes along, i'm not sure i'll be ready to relinquish my princess status...


some things i love

christmas cards! it's so much work that every year i wonder if i'll ever do it again. but then seeing those smiling faces on my mantle--the faces of all those people i love--well worth it.

running! i know i talk about it, and it may be annoying because you're like "yes janell, you run, okay." but i can't really tell you how much i love it. it makes me happy, it calms me. i love how it makes me feel. i totally look forward to it. even when it's cold and icy and snowy and dark--still love it. it's part of me and i hope i can run into my grave.

optimism. i've been realizing lately that i am a happy, optimisistic person. i feel hopeful about the future even when things are hard. i love to smile and to laugh, and it comes very natural to me. i feel i have every reason to be happy, and so little reason not to be. even when things are very busy or really tough, i generally feel calm and happy about things. i'm not a big stresser. it's a mindset i hope i always retain.

the moon. i love full moons. especially when the mountains are covered in snow so that they glow and the sky looks midnight blue instead of black and the world looks lit up. i see this often when i drive home from studying at 12 or 1230 at night, listening to nighttime jazz or norah jones, and the world feels peaceful and calm and magical.

people. i love people and have no desire or inclination to judge them. i am not trying to say i'm awesome--i'm horribly flawed. but i pretty much like everyone, and can't think of anyone i hold any grudge against. i think i am blessed to be able to see people in the best light. i make every effort to try to understand others and not to question their motives or sincerity. i only mention this because it brings me great joy to be able to love people.

high heels, sweaters and coats. i'm grouping them together because i don't want to sound too materialistic! i LOVE high heels and would like to wear them most days and have a million fun pairs. i saw the cutest gold (not shiny, just yellowish) heels with very pointy toes and this big bow over the toe. so cute! don't worry, i didn't buy them. i couldn't because i DID buy my bright, shiny red 5 inch heels that i am in love with. i also love boots, especially knee-length boots. small joy. as for sweaters--who can have too many of them? v-neck, turtle neck, fitted, baggy--they are good for every occassion. i probably have 10 black sweaters alone. love it! and coats--for christmas i got the cutest black wool peacoat with a hood and it's stinkin cute. i love being a girl.

these two monkeys. aaaaahhhhh! can you even believe their cute/fun/silly-ness?! i'm crazy over them. really. i have the best kids EVER. that's right. this picture is them trying to be strong like their dad. some mornings he does sets of push ups, sit ups, etc--with his shirt off. so the boys have their shirts off and attempt to do some workout. jacob is holding his stomache since he couldn't get the 6 pack effect by flexing his gut. really, you can't blame them for wanting to look like their dad. i mean seriously, have you seen him with his shirt off lately?! todd should back me up on this one.

news and politics. the new york times makes me very happy. i'm a nerd. i especially love reading op-eds and the latest research. and i am forever grateful for those wonderful friends--like katie w and david b--who, although i may disagree with them more often than not, will have thoughtful discussions about things that matter, and yet STILL be able to laugh at the political craziness on both sides of the aisle. and lets not forget inauguration day is january 20th. sweet! barack obama is definitely something to love.

this family. it makes me happy to see us because i think we look as happy as we are. from christmas lights at temple square.

by the way, here is a link to more of our fabulous family photos. i LOVE them! there are some great family photos, amazing individual shots of both boys and adorable ones of the two of them together. there are even some shnazzy ones of a good lookin' couple. i love looking at them--it really makes me very happy. my friend kendi took them and she is wonderful, not only because she takes great photos but because there's nothing worse than having a photographer who gets impatient with your kids for being kids. argh! but kendi takes great photos AND is a lot of fun. check her out.
if this photo doesn't whet your appetite for more cuteness, you're hopeless!


need i say more?


what i'm happy about...

i've been sweetly commanded to blog, and it's just as well, since i'll be back to school on tuesday the 13th and don't imagine i'll be blogging for awhile. my final semester of school, and it will be a rough one. but four months and i'll be an MPA grad! even though i'm nervous about ALL i have to do before then, i think i'm about ready to go back. this break has been wonderful--just what i needed. i feel renewed. we had a relaxing and fun christmas and new years, and we got to spend good time with both of our families, and--yeah!--with each other.

now that it's 2009, my goals are very meager.
1) graduate
2) move
that's about it. sure there are all kinds of things i'd like to do, but in all honesty that's pretty much what i'm aiming for. finish and move on! it's time.

i feel unbelievably happy lately. i think part of that is that i'm getting sleep. the other part of that is that i've got the greatest family ever. we were sitting around playing cars with the boys on sunday and i felt like everything i need is right there. so happy. josh is amazing, and joshua and jacob are so much fun! really. i love being with them--they make me very happy. i am a lucky woman.

my big boy joshua. recently he and i have read james and the giant peach, ralph s. mouse, and sideways stories from wayside school together. right now it's boxcar children. it's one thing just he and i do together, and it's probably my favorite mom thing to do. i love it. joshua has taken to spontaneously giving me hugs and saying "i love you mom." such a sweet, sensitive boy.

i can't even say how happy this mischievious little boy makes me. he is a one compact bundle of joy. and he loves to give hugs and kisses. "i wanna give you a kiss mom! i wanna hug you!" he has the silliest giggle and, although he has a temper to run from, he so quickly recovers and gives you that killer smile that you can hardly hold it against him. and i don't. he's his mom's son, after all.

josh turns 30 next week--crazy! i'm close behind. we're moving on up. josh is too good to me, unbelievably thoughtful and forgiving and supportive. it has been so nice to relax with him and enjoy his company. he is one an amazing dad. i hope some day my boys know how lucky they are to have him. josh recently got a big promotion--goldman's latest associate! he deserves it, i don't know anyone who works harder. now he's applying to business schools and we both are so excited for it--somewhere new! we're ready to move on and see what life holds next. i love him, and feel very content with our life. i think we're where we want to be. i can't think of anything more i could need...

here's the big fam. my mom and frank-o were here for thanksgiving which made ALMOST a full crew. we still missed my bro john. i like this picture though--all those kids! and what is better is that they all LOVE each other! they get crazy and noisy together and we love to see it. their cousins are their best buddies, and i am quite attached to my niece and nephews as well. what a great family!

look at these beautiful women! my mom is the best, and i love my sisters. there is so much in them to admire, and i often feel woefully inadequate compared to them. it was great spending thanksgiving with them all, some christmas time, and a hilarious new years. i haven't laughed that hard in a long time! it is such a gift to be by family, and we are appreciating it extra as we know we may be leaving soon.

i'll admit--i've been choked up the whole time i've been writing this. nothing spectacular going on but i have felt SO HAPPY and so blessed lately. i adore my family. i have so much to be grateful for.
more on that later...


a list

i'll be honest. two kids, two classes, and working 20 hours a week is kind of a lot. but we do still manage to have a lot of fun, i just don't have much time to write about it! here is a quick list of some of what we've been up to over the last month or two...

1. firebirds soccer.
the star...
we loved going to joshua's saturday morning games. he is improving a lot, and had a great coach with excellent practices to help. it's been fun to see. one day joshua proudly said "dad, i was really focusing, and being agressive!"
the fan...

2. kindergarten fieldtrip to the zoo...

i was one of the chaperones, and so got to tag along with my little group of five for the afternoon. all i have to say is BOYS and GIRLS are so different! these cute little girls wanted to hold my hand and tell me everything. the boys are off and running. pretty fun.

3. the circus...

barnum and bailey at the center formerly known as delta. cotton candy. trapeze artists. clowns. motorcycles. elephants. good times.

4. jason mraz
my sister lorri, josh and i went to see jason mraz at the e-center. it was AMAZING. it's been too long since i've been to a good concert, but this one was well worth the wait. i love his music, his voice is incredible live, he's a super fun performer, and i loved having a serious dance party with lors! and yes, great seats. i took that photo, nice huh? there's something so incredible about live music so loud you can't even hear yourself singing along at the top of your lungs. the energy is just intoxicating.

5. halloween
joshua was a teenage mutant ninja turtle. jacoby a dragon. so cute. we had fun carving pumpkins the week before, seeing the witches at gardner village, and then the actual night was perfect. the weatherman gave us a perfect fall day--light breeze, beautiful leaves, but no coats needed for trick-or-treating! candy stash is still slowly dwindling

6. st. george marathon

we did it! josh and i ran 26.2 in st. george. it was freezing cold and rainy the entire time--we're talking SOAKING wet clothes, soggy feet, etc. my ipod died at mile 11 from getting too wet (luckily it revived the next day!). it was tough. but we finished it, and are so glad we did. we went down to st. george with my good friend from school/work lissy, and her husband dan ran it as well. such a fun weekend!

7. voting. and REVELING!

okay, i'm just going to say it...i love barack obama!

8. blogging about voting.
this was a cool little project. one of my professors does this election blog with some other collegues at caltech, MIT, reed college, and the european institue--called election updates. he asked myself and a PhD student at caltech to work on the blog the week around election day, since they were in new mexico observing election procedures. we read all the news we could possibly find about election administration, voting technology, any kind of polling place/pollworker problems, etc. it was CRAZY!! really busy. but the fun thing about it was that i felt very involved with what was going on around the nation. it was a great way to be really engaged in something i've been so excited about for so long.
here's a link to one of my my last posts. the blog got tens of thousands of hits that week, and is generally widely read by other election scholars and administrators--so kind of a big deal in academic nerd land.

9. the ER anyone who knows this adorable little guy will be sad to learn he needed 3 stitches on his eyebrow, but not at all surprised that he tripped at the playground and bonked his head. we've been anticipating this, and know it will not be our last trip to the ER. our pediatrician was AMAZED at how great the stitches look--and you probably are too because you can't even really tell they're there. bruise on the bridge of his nose, puffy left eye, three stitches on the end of his left eyebrow. when the accident happened i was pretty calm, despite blood everywhere, but i lost it when the stitches were put in and my sweet, happy little guy screamed and cried his head off. "hold me mommy! hold me!" rips your heart right out. after probably 5-10 minutes of screaming at the top of his lungs, he gave up and just said "i'm sad!" and sobbed his sweet little heart out. i was right there with him...

10. anniversary getaway at the beach!

7 years on monday. that's right. and we had the perfect celebration. a beautiful resort, perfect weather, a generous mother-in-law to watch the boys, and then days that pretty much went: run, pool, beach, beach, beach, get ready, fancy dinner out, hot tub. and again the next day. who could complain! i love you josh.

so you see we're still alive and kicking...


yee haw!

we went to rodeo. my first time, and i dressed for the ocassion. but even with a cowboy hat, tight jeans, a nice big belt buckle, i still felt like an observer. what can i say, it's not my thing. don't get me wrong--the bull riding is amazing, mutton busting is hilarious, the horses are magnificent. but i'm not a fan of the calf roping. and, more importantly, i just do not understand these people. i've never understood that "man vs. nature" mentality that would have you conquer an animal. and when they opened the event by saying "we dedicate this to the firemen, policemen, and those great men fighting over seas, not to the politician or the activist!" (with disdain dripping from those last words), i couldn't help thinking that, although i too love this country and am honored by those who serve in uniform, i also have profound respect for "politicians" ie george washington, thomas jefferson, abraham lincoln, FDR, JFK--to name but a few. and i also can't imagine a world without "activists"--those who believe in a cause and, though not in uniform, fight for it--people like martin luther king jr and susan b. anthony. i don't think the announcer meant to demean the efforts of such great people, but it's just that mentality in general that i have a hard time with. a mentality that thinks the job of a rodeo clown is to make crude jokes about wives and mother-in-laws. it's just foreign to me.
BUT it was fun. a cultural experience, no doubt. and, who knows, if i had met a cowboy as cute as these two, i could very well be a cowgirl!

couldn't you just eat them?