Christmas Tree Quest 2008

With the dawn of December, the Lee's annual Christmas Tree Quest 2008 began. At first there were a few inquiries into whether or not such a quest was plausible given the fact that in the middle of the month, Ly and Alan would leave the chilly east coast for a wonderfully delightful (and warm) Christmas on the west coast. After much thought (and with a lot of protesting from a certain Christmas-loving member of the family), Ly and Alan embarked on their journey anyway.

One blistery cold afternoon, the two bundled up and began their search. Luckily it did not take long before they settled on a lovely 7 foot tall Douglas Fir. With much excitement, they brought it home, decorated it with Christmas carols playing in the background, and the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies filling the house. As they sat back to admire their work with the fire blazing, Alan noticed that it was snowing outside - the first snowfall of the year. What a perfect end to a perfect day.


Thanksgiving Extravaganza!

For the first time the Lees spent the thanksgiving holidays away from family...luckily they were able to share it with some very good friends. Scott and Nancy came over for our turkey cooking, pie eating, movie watching extravaganza. It was lots of fun. Ly cooked a turkey for the first time in her entire life and was overjoyed when she did not have to order takeout at the last minute.

It was so nice to have Scott and Nancy drive up from Hershey to hang out with us...we wish they were able to stay longer (like forever!) but alas real life called and they had to head back home. Hopefully they will get together more often and soon.

Lots of photos were taken so as soon soon as we manage to put them on our computer we'll post some.

After thanksgiving, Alan and Ly managed to brave the crazy crowds for a once in a lifetime shopping extravaganza on Friday morning. An experience they have decided they will never ever do again...too many people and some things are just not worth getting up at 3 am for. But it was still a fun memory...and we did get some pretty cool xmas stuff.

Sat was spent hanging out with Danielle and Brandon who drove down from Baltimore for the morning. We, along with the rest of the DC metro population, took advantage of the beautiful weather and went to the mall. We ended up at the Museum of Natural History - always a favorite with the dinosaur bones, diamonds and giant squid. In the afternoon we had a nice lunch of leftover turkey sandwiches with Rich...always nice to get to see some of your favorite people in the span of one weekend!

Anyway we are so grateful for our family and friends -- especially our friends who live relatively close they certainly have made the move out to the east coast much more enjoyable for the Lees. We love you! =)


A snapshot of fall

One of Alan's favorite past times is going on drives with Ly. They pack up the car with snacks, music, cameras, binoculars, blankets, pillows, and of course piou and panda (they have adventures) and then jump in the car. Sometimes Alan has a secret plan of where he wants to explore and sometimes he just drives wherever the road takes him.

Recent excursions have included drives to pumpkin patches, apple orchards and the local mountains to enjoy the colors of fall. Ly loves fall. The air is crisp, the trees change all sorts of beautiful colors, animals are out gathering food before the snowstorms hit...and it is perfect photo taking weather.


Wall-E Movie Night

The Disney movie Wall-E came out on video yesterday...something that both Ly and Alan have been eagerly anticipating for months. When the movie first came out in theaters, we saw it multiple times. In fact for weeks after seeing, Ly was known to randomly burst out in sayings such as "wallleeee" "evvveeeeaaa" "mo." and "ta-daaaa!" Alan even joined in the fun from time to time.

And despite the fact that Ly is 24 years old, she desperately wants the dancing Wall-e toy she discovered at Target. Wall-e sings and dances to whatever song is playing in your ipod and says all sorts of quotes from the movie. Oh to be a kid again. =)

Anyway last night, the Lee family rented Wall-E from the local redbox (a rather brilliant idea where people can rent any new release for $1) and enjoyed an evening full of Disney fun. We even made a special popcorn treat, which was full of peanut butter and chocolate goodness. If you're interested in how we made it, let us know and we'll put up the instructions.

Needless to say, Wall-E is definitely one for the DVD Library.


Prop 8

Hi, this is Lyanna for a quick second. It is no secret that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. While I may be Mormon, I have many family and friends who are not. And I certainly hope that I have been respectful of their beliefs and decision to not be a member of my church.

With the recent passage of Prop 8 in California, many people have made some incorrect assumptions about me and made rude statements simply based on my religion. Now I guess we can put aside the fact that I no longer live in California and was therefore was unable to vote on Prop 8 for a minute, but I feel that I should take a moment to speak out about the backlash of prop 8. It makes me sad that people think just because I am LDS I automatically voted YES (or would have voted yes) on 8. I personally know a lot of LDS people who didn't vote for that proposition. And if I were in California, I would have voted NO. I think that nobody should have the right to deny a group of individuals rights that they already had. The decision about gay marriage in California was already made before it was on the ballot.

However, the recent reports I have read and heard about all over the United States in regards to the backlash against the mormon church makes me sad. It is in everyone's right to protest (thanks to the constitution), however I wish people were able to do it more respectfully. And I wish I could understand their desire to target the LDS Church. I understand that people claim donations from indvidiuals (not the church) largely contributed to the passage of the propisition. However, just because certain people choose to donate money, doesn't mean that you should protest against any organization that those people belong to. It makes me wonder if Prop 8 had been defeated if everyone who voted against it would be converging on gay and lesbian hangouts and vandalising their property.

I would like to encourage everyone to focus their attention and efforts away from the LDS church and instead taking this issue to Congress. Marriage is a national issue - it crosses state lines and we should stand up and have it be treated as one.

Finally, I think that the church put it best in the following press release issued by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

"Since the people of California voted to reaffirm the sanctity of traditional marriage between a man and a woman on November 4, 2008, places of worship have been targeted by opponents of Proposition 8 with demonstrations and, in some cases, vandalism. People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights. These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America.

The Church is keenly aware of the differences of opinion on this difficult and sensitive matter. The reasons for this principled stand in defense of marriage have already been articulated elsewhere. However, some of what we have seen since Californians voted to pass Proposition 8 has been deeply disappointing.

Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues. People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal. Efforts to force citizens out of public discussion should be deplored by people of goodwill everywhere.

We call upon those who have honest disagreements on this issue to urge restraint upon the extreme actions of a few that are further polarizing our communities and urge them to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other."

Anyway I hope that everyone has a good day. And if we disagree, lets agree to disagree and still be friends. =)

November 4, 2008

So this is a bit late but on the 4th was Alan's 25th birthday. The Lee family celebrated by voting (obviously) and then allowing Alan to indulge in all sorts of sweets. The first stop was at the local Starbucks where Ly convinced the clerk to give them free tea instead of the free coffee everyone got for voting. Second stop was Krispy Kreme for Alan's free star shaped sugar and paste filled treat. After Alan managed to collect his share of freebies for voting, the Lees met up with Justin and Kristy for some Chinese food. It was then off to the Lees for an evening of watching the polls come in and enjoying some birthday cheesecake.

When the results became apparent and Obama was named President-elect, Ly and Alan were very excited to say the least. No matter how you voted, you must admit that Nov 4, 2008 was a very historic night in our nation's history...and an evening to not be forgotten for quite a long time.

Here's hoping Obama lives up to all the potential and promises!


Happy Voting Day!

So today is THE day. The day where the fate of our country is decided...at least for the next four years. While this election has certainly unleashed its fair share of mudslinging and scandals, we will certainly be glad when it's all finally over. So everyone, do your civic duty and go out and vote.

Here's hoping the right candidate wins today -- and we can have four years of change. =)


Random Musings

Ly and Alan wanted to drop you all a quick note letting you know that they are alive and well out in DC. Life has been hectic so as soon as they have a few moments they'll fill you in on all the dirty details. For now though here are a few random musings:

1. Alan finally got his BYU diploma in the mail...only it doesn't have his major on it. It says "Bachelor of Science" Poor guy. Did all that hard work in Molecular Bio for nothing. Ly could have used photoshop to create a more professional looking diploma and saved us the stress from last semester.

2. We had an unexpected visitor from Boston for an entire week which was lots of fun. It's always good to see your favorite people.

3. We found out that in a month from today some of our family is coming to visit -- so that's way exciting. We can't wait for the rest of you to come out and play in DC too!

4. We finally went to the National Archives (the place where Ly has been dying to go since we first moved here), yet for some reason it wasn't nearly as cool as Ly thought it would be - and we went home highly disappointed. Although on our way home we did stop and get an ice cream from a street vendor and Ly was seriously almost attacked by a bird carrying a piece of a pretzel. It was traumatic.

5. Palin. Seriously?? There are so many things wrong with her and her ideas that we think we shouldn't even waste our time discussing them. Although Tina Fey's SNL appearance was fantastic.


Welcome to the NIH

Finally after months of planning and preparation Alan has finally arrived at the NIH in his new lab. He is excited to be the newest fellow at the National Cancer Institute of the NIH and is ready to tackle cancer. In his first few weeks, Alan discovered that working for the Federal government is different than other jobs. For example, in order to be hired, Alan was required by Title 5 U.S.C., Chapters 11, 21, 23, 31, 33, 35, and 51 to submit a detailed background check requiring a complete and gap-free list of residences for the last 5 years with an accompanying list of contacts that can verify each address, a complete list of employers and verification of unemployment status for the last 5 years with supervisor contact info for each job and a non-family verification for unemployment, and a list of 3 friends that can vouch for his character in the last 5 years. In addition to the background check, Alan was required to be electronically fingerprinted and provide a comprehensive physical report. The entire process took Alan over a day to finish and there are still training courses that he needs to complete.

In addition to all the paperwork, during the 1st week at the NIH, Alan got completely lost several times. One day he got lost in the clinical center and spent 20 minutes stumbling through several construction zones, two patient surgical wings, and one abandoned cafeteria kitchen before finally finding an exit that wasn't an alarmed emergency exit. A few days later, Alan boarded a shuttle he thought was bound for his lab building, but much to his surprise, the shuttle exited the NIH campus, and drove 20 minutes away to another city before returning back to the main campus (stay away from the green line!).

After all the difficulties of orienting himself at a new workplace, Alan finally feels comfortable getting to and from work. He has a desk (but not a trash can, the purchasing department won't accept orders until October), an NIH email account, and a phone number. He is learning about the cancer stem cell projects that he will work on and is excited to prove that those cells really do exist.


August is birthday month

Today is Ly's mom's birthday. For all you who know Ly's mom you know that it is definitely a reason to celebrate. Here are some examples of why from Ly's perspective:

My mom took me to my first concert when I was 7 years old and bought me my first box of Crayola crayons before I could walk or even talk. She encouraged me to be whomever I wanted to be and when kids teased me in the first grade for being short she told me to "get over it" and laugh with them or else they'd keep teasing me the rest of the millions of years I was in school.

My mom made me a Jell-O cake with crayons made out of gumdrops on it for my birthday when I turned 5 - and let me eat the purple crayon because purple was my favorite color even though everyone else wanted the purple one. She made my Halloween costumes and even sewed me a Civil War era dress for the 8th grade Civil War dance. She took me on a mother-daughter bonding trip up the coast of California where she taught me that things will always be okay - even when you run out of gas in the middle of Sequoia National Park at 9:30 at night and there is nobody around. She also taught me to love trees and nature and that I should always take a moment to appreciate the beauty around me.

My mom was very active in my life at school. She graded the cursive papers of my third grade class (I always did bad because she claimed that my writing was hard to read), went on field trips, and made treats for my friends on their birthdays. She also stayed up with me whenever I had a project due - whether it was a report on zebras or a final paper on Shakespeare. She made sure I always tried my hardest, and while she would often get frustrated with my perfectionism sometimes - like when I'd spend an hour choosing fonts for a poster at 3 in the morning - she put up with it anyway.

My mom spent countless nights in hospitals with me, which was not at all fun. She snuck me in ice cream from the cafeteria and taught me how to play poker. She would yell at dumb doctors and get ice when needed. And my mom never once acted as if she were afraid, and because of that I wasn't either.

My mom is my hero. She has always been there for me when I really really needed her even if it meant having to sacrifice something that was important to her. She is my best friend and my role model.

I love you mom! Happy Birthday!


Over the Hill

Today is Lyanna's dad's birthday. He is turning the big 5-0. So congrats to him for lasting this long in a family of all girls and putting up with all the crap the Bolig girls put him through throughout the years.

In honor of his birthday, Lyanna put together the following lists:

The Top 10 Things I Love about My Dad:

1. The way he folded my blanket when I was little just right with silky side up
2. The way he calls me every few days just to check up on me and make sure I'm okay...even after I got married
3. The fact that all my friends voted my dad to be the "cool dad"
4. How easy going he is
5. The way he makes me laugh
6. How he used to make me lunch everyday I was in school.
7. How hard he tries to give me what I want/need
8. How when he shaved his head he chased me around the entire house trying to rub it on me...and I was 22 years old.
9. That he has put up with all my crap for 23 years
10. How much my dad loves me

Top 10 Things I've learned from my dad

1. Sometimes it's okay to just let things go
2. It is important to be able to go with flow
3. Work hard, Play hard.
4. You should always give everything 110%
5. It is okay to fail sometimes
6. Hugs are important
7. Family is the most important thing in the entire world
8. Take advantage of every opportunity
9. Always do what you say you're going to do
10. Make sure that the loved ones in your life know you love them everyday

Daddy I love you lots! Happy Birthday and I hope that the next 50 years are better then the last!


Family History

Before Ly moved back east, she decided she wanted to go visit her mom's parents grave. She was excited because she had never seen it before and figured that she should while she had the chance. One morning, Ly and Alan trekked out to the Salt Lake cemetery with some of her family and they found the grave with no problems at all -- especially because they took the advice of wise Grandpa Grant who suggested that we ask the sexton for the location of the grave instead of wandering around for hours.

Ly is very grateful for the opportunity to go with Uncle Dick because she got to listen to all sorts of stories about Grandpa and Grandma Bart whom she didn't get a chance to know very well while they were alive. And of course it's fun to hear stories about when her mom was a kid too!

One of the things Ly has enjoyed about living in Salt Lake is the opportunity to see where her mom came from - where she went to high school, where she grew up, where she played, that sort of thing. It's important to know where someone comes from in order to really understand who they are and perhaps even their point of view on life. So even if the only good thing about her year and a half spent living in Utah is the fact that she can now understand her mom a little more, it was worth it.


Saying Goodbye to Utah: Part 2

Well it's official. Today Lyanna and Alan began their trek across the country to Washington DC. While they are very excited to move and for the new adventures ahead they were (shockingly enough) quite sad to leave Utah.

This move has been hard work. Alan has been such a great help because he pretty much packed up the Lee's entire house by himself. With the help of some awesome friends (yay for the Jones family and for the fact that they will be close) Alan managed to load all of their millions of boxes into a cube thing and then waited for the people to come whisk it off to DC. Ly's usual habit of procrastinating prevailed and she learned that she couldn't pack her entire house in 20 minutes despite insiting that she could. Luckily the infamous Dr Dickie came to the rescue with his towel wrapping expertise and box packing skills.

So with all their stuff packed in boxes and on it's way to DC, Ly felt as if a chapter of her life was closing and a new one was opening (as cliche as it sounds there really isn't another way that adequetly describes it). So as she seems to do whenever this happens, she went shopping and bought some new clothes and got her hair cut. And she loves it. So here's to a new hair cut, new clothes and a new place to live!

Tomorrow the Lee's will be in Yellowstone for Lyanna's first real camping experience. That's when the adventure will really start.


Saying Goodbye to Utah: Part 1

As July 17th rapidly approaches, Ly and Alan have been preparing for their “big move” to the east coast…well Alan has been preparing at least. Ly, however, has had other things on her mind.

Claiming that she can’t actually help move boxes due to her recent shoulder surgery, Ly has been doing everything possible to avoid packing them. And anyone who knows anything about her knows she has a ton of stuff. In fact, it may be argued that out of all of the possessions in the Lee household, 90% of them are Ly’s– things like bags of pandas, boxes and boxes of crayons, markers, prismacolors, papers...the list goes on. Alan plans to have a serious discussion with Ly about the fact that a single human being does not, in fact, need to own hundreds of Crayola crayons.

For the better half of June and first part of July it was quite easy for Alan to forget that he actually has a spouse in the flesh because she was never around. And while Ly wishes with her entire heart that she flew to China for a whirlwind tour of the Giant Panda Reserves, she was instead in Utah Valley working. To be quite honest, Alan doesn’t even know what Ly does all day at the office but he knows that she works a lot and is on the phone a lot and goes to a lot of meetings and gets mad at people when they change logos and drives a golf cart around campus when it isn’t broken. While most of these things are slightly correct (Ly is in fact afraid of driving the golf cart on the road), she did spend a lot of time managing the new Utah Valley University brand in preparation for the unveiling on July 1st.

June 30th was the “UVUphoria Grand Celebration” which consisted of tours of the new digital learning center (which is awesome, if you live in Utah Valley you should go check it out…it even has a cafĂ©), a huge concert (there were country people singing so Alan of course did not make an appearance), a fireworks extravaganza, a dance, and a countdown to UVU (aka midnight July 1st). Ly got home late that night (early that morning) and was gone again the next morning before Alan even woke up. July 1st was even better. The official ribbon cutting ceremony of the new library was in the morning and hundreds of people came to see a bunch of Who’s Who among political, religious and community leaders endorse UVU and give mini speeches.

After that event Ly came home and proceeded to sleep for the next week.

When she woke up Alan reminded her that they leave Utah in less than 2 weeks. At which point, she began to stress out about how in the world she is going to move her crayons across the country without them melting in the middle of July.

But seriously people if you have a suggestion about that let us know.


New (Old) Furniture

Our new apartment in Washington DC is going to be great. The apartment community has a racquetball court, a couple pools, tennis courts, and a gym. The apartment itself has a loft, a fireplace, and a walk-in closet. All we have to do is furnish it so we were excited when Alan's sister decided to give back Alan's old dresser (the one that she took from his parent's house without asking). The only problem was that it was finished with a hideous orange-yellow stain that Lyanna would never allow in our new apartment. Alan, being the fix-it man that he is, decided that he would refinish the dresser in his spare time so Lyanna would allow it in the apartment until we could afford a new and better one. After buying new handles and a week of sanding, staining, and finishing, this is the finished product.

We liked it so much that we'll probably end up keeping it.


Change on our horizon

We have some very exciting news to share.

In exactly one month from today, the Lee family will be relocating to Washington DC!

You might be wondering why we are moving across the country. Well, Alan got offered an awesome job at the National Institute of Health (NIH) located in Bethesda, Maryland. He got a two year fellowship working in a lab researching cancer stem cells. Needless to say, he is very excited (and a bit nervous) for this new opportunity. Lyanna knows that her husband will be an NIH Fellow Star.

Moving across the country is a bit daunting but we're excited for whatever adventures may lie ahead.


Let the posting really begin

We're so excited to share our life with you that we've decided to post more than once today.

First on our list of things to discuss: Our Wedding.

It's true we got married on July 20, 2007 in the Salt Lake Temple. Needless to say, it proved to be a highlight of our year. The ceremony went off without a hitch (well there was some blood but it got cleaned up before Ly could really freak out), we had a nice family dinner and then the next day our reception at the Red Butte Gardens was everything we'd hoped for and more. Ly was sad because it didn't rain - she really wanted wedding pictures in the rain (she's an odd one). Instead it was 100 million degrees (no seriously, it was the hottest day of the year), and as the day wore on Alan started to regret teasing Ly about her inexplicable desire for thunderstorms. Luckily everything else worked out just as Ly imagined - flowers were beautiful, cake was excellent (key lime...yum), music kept things hopping and we heard the breakfast food was tasty (although we didn't actually get to eat any of it.) For many the highlight of the day was the infamous bouquet toss during which Ly pelted Alan's dad with the flowers. Oops. The highlight for us though was getting to spend time with our family and friends, most of whom traveled quite far to come celebrate and show their support for the newlyweds. So here's a belated thank you for that.

Second thing to discuss: Our non-worldly travels

While it would be nice to say that we went to Italy or some other fantastic country on a vacation that would be lying. We have, however, managed to travel quite extensively over the past few months. For Thanksgiving we went to Arizona to see a majority of Ly's crazy family for an entire week. We took Karrianne and Quinn to the movies where we discovered that there is in fact a big difference between licorice and twizzlers. We then drove home (or rather Alan drove while Ly slept) via the Grand Canyon where we stayed for a few days on the South Rim. It was fun especially because Alan had never been, but Ly still thinks the North Rim is better. We spent our first Christmas as a married couple in sunny San Diego, during which Alan got to witness first hand the chaos of a holiday in the Bolig household complete with a hunt for a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, dozens of cookies and an unforgettable holiday trip to Disneyland. Our 2 day adventure at the happiest place on earth was certainly one of the highlights of our Christmas break. We were lucky enough to win these dream fast passes that let us get to the of the line at both parks anytime we wanted for an entire day. It was awesome and allowed us to ride all of our favorite rides more than once. What a treat -- especially for Alan who had never been to Disneyland before (as shocking as that seems). New Year's was spent in Zion National Park. Unfortunately, Ly got super sick and slept in the car/hotel instead of hiking and exploring the park, much to Alan's disappointment. Luckily she had already been there before, or it would have been a real travesty. Throw in a few other trips to Vegas and San Diego for cancer conferences and family/panda quality time, and that pretty much sums up our adventures of the west over the past 11 months. Maybe we'll get to Italy next year.

Third thing to discuss: Life in Utah.

Unlike Alan who grew up in Salt Lake, living in Utah has been quite the challenge/change for Lyanna and certainly has taken some getting used to. On her way to work in the morning (if she braves the freeway) Ly can literally drive by farms. Complete with cows. Things close early which make life difficult if you're as forgetful as she is. There certainly are not as many things to do for fun as there are in Boston and San Diego. However, living in Provo has it's advantages. Cost of living is super cheap (no seriously, people complain when their rent is like $300), there are beautiful mountains, it's close(r) to California which results in multiple trips to San Diego, and the people she works with are quite nice (and down to earth - a rather refreshing quality in another human being). The best thing about living in Utah though is that we have family close. Tab and Dust live close enough to have bi-weekly dinners, and a quick trip up to Salt Lake allows us to visit with Alan's family any time we want. We've enjoyed getting to spend the quality time with our family before everyone moves on to bigger and better things outside the Salt Lake area.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Alan and I decided to embrace the 21st century and start a blog, especially since we know there are millions of people out there who are dying to read about the details of our life. So for all you stalkers out there in cyberspace - enjoy.

Hope we live up to all the hype.