2008 has been an incredibly significant year for us. In March Harry left his job to pursue working on his website, Jetrecord, full-time. In April we returned to Seattle to visit with friends for a week. Charlie snuck in his first steps at SeaTac airport on our way out, thrilling us that he first walked where he was born. In May Kathleen started working as a per diem speech-language pathologist with acute care and inpatient rehabilitation at Boulder Community Hospital (which happens to be her birthplace). In the fall we realized that neither of our ventures were going to sustain us much longer so Harry began seeking full-time employment and Kathleen began working at the hospital as much as she was needed. In early November Harry was offered a short-term contract making a website for a Seattle company. Between this job, Kathleen working 2-4 days/week, Charlie cared for courtesy of grandparents, and very intentional spending choices, we have been able to continue paying our bills. We are deeply thankful for the amazing experience of having Harry work from home on a project that excites him, for all the help we’ve received to make this period possible, and for the joy that comes from living simply with frequent reminders of what really matters to us. We also eagerly anticipate having a regular income! We would appreciate your prayers for Harry to find a full-time job that fits his skills and personality. A great bonus would be that he gets to telecommute. We can’t stand the thought of not seeing each other as often as we have.
Kathleen: Top vote goes to Three Cups of Tea for inspiration factor. Greg Mortenson is now one of my living heroes. This book documents what I believe to be the best long term anti-terrorism strategy possible. (I have an admittedly limited knowledge base.) Reading the book, along with Khaled Mosseini’s phenomenal books and seeing Charlie Wilson’s War, I’m horrified by the potential consequences of our nation’s current actions in the Middle East. We need a thousand more Greg Mortensons and a government willing to fund them instead of bombs.
Predictably Irrational provided excellent insight into the array of subconcious processes that affect our decision making. A fantastic read for election year, as well as prior to the holidays. The writing isn’t quite as excellent as the content.
Finally, I must mention The First Circle. When Solzhenitsyn died in August I had yet to read one of his books and this was the only one offered at our local library. It did not dissapoint.
Harry: I have a crush on Steve Martin and so loved Born Standing Up. I’d been wanting to read The Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language for a couple years and found copies at our local library; I thought they were brilliant, especially for the potential applications outside of architecture. The Spirit of St. Louis was very inspiring; I can’t believe those people accomplished what they did with the available technology. I also loved Boo and Baa Have Company.
Kathleen: Uh oh. Here we go again with the dreaded music question. I admit, I am completely out of it with regards to new music. I must sing “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Five Little Ducks” more than I listen to all adult songs combined. That being said, For The Kids continues to be the most tolerable kids album in our household. Please feel free to suggest some good music!
Charlie: “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
Harry: I’m in the same boat as Kathleen. I don’t think I listened to anything released in 2008. But I created an online playlist of some of my faves that you can listen to. Use the player below or click the “online playlist” link.
Kathleen: My most memorable, moving, and unusual movies include The Visitor, Children of Heaven, The Story of the Weeping Camel, and Seven Samurai. I’m finding more and more that independent and foreign films seem to be the best stories for me. (This question was so much easier to answer this year now that we have Netflix!!!).
Harry: Simon’s Cat, The Lives of Others, Children of Heaven, The Story of the Weeping Camel, Whale Rider, God Grew Tired of Us, The Fog of War, Spellbound, Helvetica, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Kite Runner, The Visitor, and Seven Samurai.
Kathleen: Living simply and contentedly. Finding ways to balance our immediate family time with all our jobs, extended family time, and other necessary aspects of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. I nearly crashed and burned multiple times this year from not nurturing my faith, health, and social life.
Harry: Finding direction. This year I really struggled with the fact that I will never fully explore all the areas of life that I’m interested in. I’ve always known this to be true but it really sunk in this year. And now combine that with an inability to decide on one area of focus and you’ve got a recipe for a bad French movie. 2009 will be the year of my great redemption story or the year I buy a Porsche on credit. I’m also tired of being heavier than I should so look for New, Improved, Buns-of-Carbon-Nanotube Harry™ at the end of next year.
Name Something You’re Particularly Proud Of
Kathleen: I am most proud of supporting Harry in his dream to work on Jetrecord full-time. I needed to let go of a lot of false securities and fears to do this. This decision has provided deep satisfaction for Harry, amazing times for our family, and no regrets. I am also proud of myself for going back to work in the hospitals. It was rather daunting to enter medical speech-language pathology after several years off. Neither of these actions would’ve been possible without the incredible support we’ve had from our families.
Harry: Even more than Jetrecord itself, I’m proud of the hard work Kathleen and I did to get to a place where we could make that decision to go for it with confidence and joy, even in the face of such great risk. It’s funny, looking back to February, how small that risk seems now.
Kathleen: Finding out that Harry’s brother Steve was moving to Colorado. We are deeply blessed to have him close by now…and Charlie adores his “Uncle Cheese.” One of the simplest, sweetest surprises was making my best friend’s baby laugh for the first time. I didn’t know it was her first laugh, and when her parents watched wide-eyed as one of their twins giggled, I was overcome with the emotion of being part of that sacred moment. It was also especially special since I had flown to Seattle for the express purpose of being with that friend and meeting her little girls.
Harry: I’m really glad my brother moved here. Now we just need to get the other one.
Favorite Time of Day
Kathleen: I love dinnertime at our household. Even though I’m usually exhausted, it’s wonderful to be together as a family, try to have conversations with Harry, and listen to Charlie’s thoughts on the important matters of our family. It’s also one of the silliest times of day for us and I treasure our laughs. I know you didn’t ask, but my least favorite time of day would be 3:45am.
Charlie: Mealtimes and the crack of dawn. While we’re still half asleep and grumbling about the unfairness of morning, Charlie’s already running to bring us multiple toys and making us laugh with his cheerfulness and enthusiasm for a new day. (The kid does sleep 12 hours a night.)
Harry: Night night time with Charlie.
Kathleen: I tasted the most incredible chocolate bar of my life at Chocolopolis in Seattle. With regards to healthy options, I think sushi still tops my list of favorite foods. I would be happy to eat it every day. I also really enjoyed the tomatoes from my garden and the raspberries & rhubarb from Harry Sr’s!
Charlie: mac sheese (mac & cheese), boo sheese (bleu cheese), appuhsauh (applesauce), too-ties (cookies), tate (cake), umnas (bananas)
Harry: I’m kinda partial to yellow curry from Thai Kitchen. Kathleen also received a dangerous recipe for Dutch Babies from a friend in Seattle. And I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow the desire for pizza.
Kathleen: TED is filled with incredible talks by experts in technology, science, the arts and global issues. I am often awestruck by the content. It’s a bit like getting to attend the best lectures at Ivy League schools for free. Last year I shared about joining Facebook. I admit to a love-hate relationship with it now. I love seeing regular updates from so many of my friends. I hate the superficiality of much of it. I definitely would never want it to replace conversations. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to stop looking at it as often and pursue writing more emails and making more phone calls to friends.
Harry: Netflix is one of the most functional sites I use although I would love to see much better organization. I love TED, as Kathleen does, for its content. I love FFFFOUND! for design inspiration. I’m on Facebook but I hate it. (I actually have this fantasy that I’ll wake up one day and Facebook will be gone. No explanation. None needed.) I use Twitter to communicate, somewhat unsuccessfully, with the outside world. That’s another love-hate relationship. I’m redesigning my web site this year (again) and I’m going back to plain ‘ol web pages. I’m fascinated by and fearful of, perhaps paranoically, the slow, automated integration of every web site with every part of my life, even though I’m also partially responsible.
Favorite Song Charlie Makes You Play on the Piano
Kathleen: “Pop Goes the Weasel,” hands down.
Harry: It’s a tie between “Chariots of Fire” and “Axel F.”
Least Favorite Activity You Must Do Daily
Kathleen: Washing out poopy diapers in the toilet. If I had to clean toilets everyday, these two activities would tie. I am really glad we use cloth diapers, but this is definitely not the best smelling part of my day.
Charlie: Go nigh’ nigh’.
Harry: Yep, me too. I don’t like go nigh’ nigh’.
Favorite Thing Charlie Says
Kathleen: So many things!!! The SLP in me adores every utterance. “Mama, Charlie eat mac cheese yesterday.” I hear this at least five times a day. I also liked it when, after feeling my wet hair, Charlie once said, “mama, turn off.” Apparently wet hair isn’t his thing. The other cute phrase we heard all Christmas season was, “Charlie get Christmas tree basement yesterday” (and he pronounces Christmas tree as “piss chee”). We had pulled our Christmas tree up from its basement storage place to set it up for the holidays without realizing this would have a profound impact on our child. Maybe he thinks we are storing streetlights or bushes down there that we’ll bring up and decorate for the next holiday. Last one- I like that “UPS truck” sounds like “peace truck.”
Charlie: Seems to really like saying “Baa!” and “Mac sheese mac sheese mac sheese!”
Harry: I love that Charlie will continue addressing his stuffed robot until the robot acknowledges him. It doesn’t matter if Kathleen or I answer him back. If he’s talking to Robot, Robot should answer. And this means Kathleen or I must acknowledge him in Robot’s voice while holding Robot.
Kathleen: Still love dolphins. Of the animals I regularly see, I’m quite fond of one of our neighbor’s dogs.
Charlie: “Tee-tat.” He loves kitties and even has a make-believe one he holds in his hand on occasion. We must pet it gently.
Harry: I like tee-tats, too, and am secretly hoping we get one this year. But it’s a secret. I also enjoyed seeing a coyote in the field behind our house.
Least Favorite of Charlie’s Toys
Kathleen: I grew so tired of reading a particular book that I hid it. I brought it out days later, but I could not label the Cars and Trucks and Things that Go one more time at that moment. Alligator cars and cheese cars are cool, but man, twenty times a day for weeks on end?! I’m used to his noisy, battery operated toys now so they don’t bother me like they used to. I am also a little tired of rolling rings down the slide and fetching them from our basement stairs.
Harry: I will shoot the next person who gives us a battery operated toy of any kind. Okay, I won’t shoot, but you will walk with a severe limp.
Favorite Campaign Moment
Kathleen: The Obama family walking out on the platform together for the President-elect’s acceptance speech. I cried. I am thrilled he will be our President in three weeks!!!
Harry: Obama’s A More Perfect Union speech.
Favorite News Story
Kathleen: The Obama campaign and the election kept my attention for most of the summer and fall. I got great laughs from Jon Stewart’s segments mocking election coverage, too.
Harry: Easily, the election of Barack Obama.
Kathleen: After watching the movie, Helvetica, I’m aware that there’s a lot more to this answer than I could’ve ever dreamed. I like the familiarity of Helvetica and certainly the positive associations Gotham provides (it’s the typeface of the Obama “Change” campaign).
Charlie: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom‘s font. He saw the same type and colors on a FedEx truck once and started singing the alphabet song.
Favorite Speech-Language Pathology Area of Practice
Kathleen: I yearn to work with child literacy development again. I am strongly considering starting some part-time private practice literacy work this year, in addition to my current hospital work. I am thrilled to be practicing in acute care again, too. I am fascinated by swallowing disorders, diagnosis and treatment.
Harry: I’m a big fan of Barium enemas although I don’t get to administer them as often as I’d like. Wait, that’s Speech-Language Proctology.
Hats Off To
Kathleen: Angie, for raising newborn twins and a toddler with amazing grace. Our parents, for supporting us immensely through this crazy year and embracing their days with Charlie. Harry Sr, for his extensive hands-on help and consultant role with my gardening and landscaping work. My sister & her husband, for weathering great challenges this year and coming out dry! My brother, for graduating from Great Lakes Maritime Academy.
Harry: My brother, Steve, for taking a big chance moving here. Our family, for their huge support during another crazy year.
Kathleen: Harry has been my deepest inspiration this year. The lessons I’ve learned from him have changed the way I face the future. His courage to leave a secure job to dream big, incredible talent at thinking outside the box, and pursuit of what’s best for our family and his career have been nothing short of inspirational. It takes great faith to pursue dreams, and even more so when they are countercultural. I love that Harry has lived out our beliefs, priorities and definition of success. I am now much more willing to think big for myself.
Harry: I’m inspired by Kathleen’s steadfastness, dedication, and discipline, three qualities of which I need so much more. And whether he knows it or not, my other brother, James, inspires me with his relentless pursuit of his own dreams in music.
That’s a Wrap
Thanks for joining us again this year. We’re looking forward to all that 2009 has in store and we hope this letter finds you in good company. Per our usual finale, here’s a slideshow of some of our favorite photos from 2008.
Love, Kathleen, Harry, and Charlie