Happy 2012!

And welcome! This will be the first Loveoirs post of the last year of Earth’s existence, or the first Loveoirs post in Earth’s glorious new dawning, or it will be just another New Year’s Loveoirs post, like all the rest, but better. In any case we’d love to see the planet undergo a geomagnetic reversal because it just sounds cool. Happy New Year!

If you remember our post from last year, it was marked by super elation because Miles was born and super stress because we had moved across the U.S., started new jobs, started preschool, and didn’t sleep much. This year was much more stable for us. Can we get an amen? How about a word up?

We’re not sure when sleep sanity finally returned to our household, but 2011 was much better in this regard. We had at least twenty or so nights of no wakeups, that is, nights when both boys slept through the whole night. Of course, those were interspersed with 345 nights of illness, bad dreams, accidents, and crying for the hell of it (Harry and Kathleen, not the boys), but we appreciated the sleep nights immensely and look forward to maybe forty or so this year.

In April we moved from our paper walled Queen Anne ice box to a lovely rental house near Green Lake. It has one story (thank goodness, no more children tumbling down the stairs). We have a backyard with trees, great light, and lots of room for flowers, vegetables, and little bulldozers. During the warmer months, the boys practically lived in the backyard. We enjoy having friends over, walking and jogging around the lake, going for coffee at Zoka, and donuts at Mighty-O. Our neighbors have been very welcoming. In short, it feels like a place we could stay for a long time and this has been the biggest and most positive change for us.

Harry worked from home the whole year. That was amazing and hard and amazing and great and hard for all of us, for all of the reasons you might expect. He started work later in the day, ended earlier, and spent flexible time with the family. Knowing now that this works for us, it would be hard to go back to a full time job with a commute and all of the little extra bits that come with working for someone else. Of course, there were many times we wished we had the security of a full-time job and its benefits, but working a flexible job, having the family together, and being free to call the shots have made it worth every penny we might have given up.

Kathleen journeyed from pure survival mode to moments of thriving in her roles this year.  She has regained most of her sense of taste and some of her sense of smell, which has helped dramatically with increased desire to pursue some of her passions, like cooking and gardening.  And with a toddler in diapers, it’s not the worst thing in the world to not be able to smell well.  She has felt luxuriously spoiled with our recently acquired gym membership at the YMCA that has childcare the boys love and allows her to exercise during the day however she’d like.  Swimming has been incredibly cathartic and totally worth dealing with the colorful experiences of a gym locker room.  Kathleen remains torn about whether or not she’ll return to a typical speech-pathology role somewhere, but is thankful daily for a degree that has helped her tremendously with parenting.

Charlie turned four this year and started his second year of preschool, this time at the Seattle Children’s Theater. He’s loved it so far and it really plays to some of his strengths. He’s riding a bike now and has gone around Green Lake a few times (~3 miles or ~4.8 km). He loves and despises his brother depending on the day and the activity, but they’re really great pals.

Miles started walking and talking this year and has become quite rambunctious. In the fall the boys invented a game of dropping themselves over the back of the couch onto little play furniture and sometimes just onto the floor. Miles enjoys this as much as Charlie. He tries out new words and phrases just about every day. He follows his brother around like a puppy sometimes. He’s totally charming and he knows it. And given his current size, we’re pretty sure our food budget is going to eclipse our college savings in ten years.

So, 2011 was great for us. We’re happy, getting healthier, getting wiser, and getting more sleep. We hope the start of the new year finds you well. As is our tradition, we’ve included some of our favorites below. Enjoy!

Favorite Books

Kathleen: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese was the most heart-wrenching, gory and beautiful story I’ve read in a long time. I almost stopped reading after the twins’ birth story, had to take a several day break, and returned to start at a different chapter before going back to it, but I’m glad I regained my composure and read every word. Half way through I didn’t want to do anything but read. And the ending. I loved the ending.

I’m also very pleased to be a new owner of a Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. As I grow in my knowledge of cooking and baking, I’m longing for the scientific understanding of why certain things work and others don’t. I am also thrilled to have 2,000 recipes that have been tested so thoroughly! With this book in hand and a new skillet, I had the confidence to try pan-searing scallops that were served with browned lemon butter and butternut squash ravioli. Yum.

Harry: The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, Book 1 – The Phenomenon of Life, by Christopher Alexander. In it, Alexander identifies and measures the properties that create life in the built world, from leaves to art to buildings to neighborhoods and beyond. I’m grateful to have these new eyes as I experience the world now. I’ve read the first two volumes and I hope to read the other two this year.

Charlie: The Three Snow Bears. My Father’s Dragon. “I like reading new books that I haven’t read before.”

Miles: My First Word Lift-the-Flap Board Book and Goodnight, Seattle were requested quite frequently.

Favorite Music

Kathleen: I have really enjoyed Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, and The Autumn Film this year. Not just new stuff, but the albums that I keep returning to because they speak to my soul. I have also loved the precious few minutes that I’ve had to play piano all by myself. Granted, I’m half-watching the boys to make sure the dissonant, non-piano noises I’m hearing aren’t resulting in either of their serious harm, but it’s happening. Sometimes I even get through an entire song.

Harry: You can listen to my favorites below. This past year the themes were nostalgia, introspection, and the reinvented 1980s, except for the last song in the list, in which one group traveled to the year 2025 and returned with its dystopian hip hop. My favorite was “Beth/Rest” by Bon Iver.

[mp3-jplayer tracks="Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes@06-Helplessness-Blues.mp3, Like the Wheel - The Tallest Man On Earth@03-Like-the-Wheel.mp3, Up in Flames - Coldplay@11-Up-in-Flames.mp3, Beth/Rest - Bon Iver@10-Beth_Rest.mp3, Peace on the Rise - Chad VanGaalen@02-Peace-on-the-Rise.mp3, I Am Dead (CFCF Remix) - Jori Hulkkonen@I-Am-Dead-CFCF-Remix.mp3, Before and After Life - CFCF@01-Before-and-After-Light.mp3, ccore - Jacob 2-2@ccore.mp3, An Echo from the Hosts That Profess Infinitum - Shabazz Palaces@02-An-Echo-from-the-Hosts-That-Profess-Infinitum.mp3"]

Charlie: “Crocodile Dock. Huey Lewis & the News. U2. The fireflies song. And 5-4-3-2-1 Blast Off.”

[mp3-jplayer tracks="Faith (Hebrews 11:1) from Crocodile Dock - Jay Stocker@06-Faith-Hebrews-11.mp3, Doin' It All (For My Baby) - Huey Lewis & The News@03-Doin-It-All-For-My-Baby.mp3, Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of - U2@02-Stuck-In-A-Moment-You-Cant-Get-Out-Of.mp3, Fireflies - Owl City@06-Fireflies.mp3, Rocketship Run - Laurie Berkner@13-Rocketship-Run.mp3"]

Miles: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He sings this a lot.

Favorite Movies/Shows

Kathleen: My only steps into a theater were for a viewing of 50/50 with Angie. I absolutely loved it. I laughed so hard that I cried, cried so hard that I was snotty and doing the ugly cry. I looked hideous at the movie’s end, but it was worth it. Had I been at home without reservation, I would’ve blown through an entire box of tissues. At home I enjoyed The Trip, Kings of Pastry, Outsourced, The Secret of Kells, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Pressure Cooker. Next year I will certainly tell you how I loved The King’s Speech and other grand movies that came out because they will finally be on Netflix streaming!

Harry:The Secret of Kells, Pressure Cooker, The Trip, Lenny, Exit Through the Gift Shop, At Close Range, Sling Blade, Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind, Who Is Harry Nilsson?, Mesrine: Part I and Part II, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (the Swedish versions of those; I haven’t seen the David Fincher version). Yes, I still loves me some movies.

I loved watching season 1 of The Cosby Show. I will also admit to watching every episode of every season of thirtysomething. Both shows make so much sense now as a married parent of two.

Charlie: Kipper, Caillou, Busytown Mysteries, Pingu, Cars, Charlie Brown.

Miles: When he thinks he has a chance at watching a show (which is extremely rare), he requests “Elmo” (referring to anything from Sesame Street) or Thomas the Tank Engine.

Favorite Games

Kathleen: The games that make my heart melt usually don’t involve me. They’re the games resulting in the best giggles I’ve ever heard. Recently, Miles and Charlie spent at least ten minutes running around the house laughing like crazy while they took turns dragging a sheet and pulling on it. At Thanksgiving all those under ten laughed hysterically at Harry’s silliness. The games I love to instigate are based on whatever’s going on at the moment that can be made fun. Sometimes it’s when one of the boys makes a weird noise and we all keep trying to make it. Other times it’s me dancing in the kitchen with a colander on my head while I feed them a meal.

Harry: Being silly with Charlie and Miles. Whatever we’re doing, there’s always an alternate, ridiculous way of doing it that makes them laugh. They’re also big fans of my “going down the elevator behind the kitchen counter” sight gag (thanks, Mike Myers). I also enjoyed Glitch, Real Racing, and Machinarium.

Charlie: Heroica. Chutes and Ladders. Busytown.

Miles: Climbing on the couch. Basketball.

Moments of Beauty and Inspiration

Kathleen: There is too much to share here, so I’m going to pick the first five that come to mind. Fasten your seat belt, I’m about to bullet:

1) Harry and I choosing to fix up this rental has provided unexpected fun for our marriage, often while we’re covered in paint or dirt. Being in a free-standing home for the first time since our immaculate and basically brand new Colorado home led to some unexpected shock and grief for me because this place was far from clean and pristine. I was inspired by Harry’s encouragement and our subsequent devotion to make our shelter a place of beauty, however we could. If the carpet has to be stained and teal, let the walls be clean. If the grass has to stay put and be moss-filled, let the weeds be pulled and eventually replaced with vegetables and flowers and mulch. Bit by bit, it becomes more lovely and life-giving. It was hard at first to think about pouring so much time and energy into a rental, but it makes sense why it’s been such a gift to us to do so. It is our home.

2) Charlie learning to ride his bike without pedals made me tear up because I know what a huge mental feat it was for him (much more so than the physical challenge). He had taken a few falls, was scared and wanted to give up. When Harry and I told him how many times we fell and that we still sometimes fall, and let him know that he had to decide to tell his body that it was worth a few bumps and bruises, he decided to go for it and the look on his face was amazing.

3) Miles learned to walk this year. And talk. And run. And throw balls. And build train tracks. The joy Miles expresses with any new experience is so contagious I always end up smiling with him.

4) A very tall, lanky, tattered homeless man wearing a feathered hat walked to the front of our church sanctuary during a morning service with a big bunch of flowers and a toilet plunger in hand. The flowers looked like he picked them out of people’s gardens on his way in: loose, mismatching, and hand-picked. Everyone was standing and singing, Harry and I were in the balcony and could see him walk up to the front stage and lay everything down, retrieving the plunger from the midst of the flowers and putting it in his back pocket. He then sat awkwardly and raised his arms to worship, seemingly singing a different song because his mouth wasn’t moving to the same rhythms. A very well-kept older woman left her pew unnoticed but returned to the stage with a large pitcher of water. She leaned in towards the man, I assume to ask him permission, and put the flowers in the water. I completely lost it, overwhelmed by the love of that moment.

5) So many simple things from nature: sprouting seeds, pulled weeds, turtles on the logs at Green Lake, flavor grenade pluots and other divine stone fruit, changing leaves, harbor seals, sea stars, waves…

Harry: I have loved watching our boys grow into playmates. It’s taken them a long time and only recently did they start playing really well together, but for the most part they enjoy each other’s company. They giggle a lot together. They hug goodnight. It’s amazing watching two beings who came from my DNA ask to embrace each other without prompting.

I’m fascinated by Charlie’s paintings: the subjects he chooses, how he depicts them, his use of color and size, the whole bit.

Miles has a fantastic smile and sense of humor. If you need cheering up in 2012, we rent him out at $26/hour, up from $19 last year. Still a great bargain!

I’m inspired by Kathleen’s love of cooking and her blossoming as a chef. I’ve reached the point where I prefer her food to just about anything, save the hoity-toity places we go on special occasions. And even with some of those places, I prefer her meals. I tag along just so we can say hoity-toity once in a while.

Charlie: “I remember you [Papa] blowing the biggest bubble. And we went to the beach. I remember moving into our new house. It has more space than our old house.”

Miles: “This doesn’t count as beautiful, per se, but I was moved by the zeal of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, regardless of their tactics or effectiveness.” [Miles is a realist.]

Best Surprise

Kathleen: We enjoyed a pretty incredible year, including moving back to our favorite neighborhood (close to our first home). It was also filled with lots of high-quality family time, my brother getting a job based out of a Seattle that led to many great experiences together and the beginning of us really knowing each other as friends, loads of fun play dates, evenings with dear friends and bellyaching laughter, a few lovely getaways and the amazing day-to-day pleasure of having Harry work from home. But my heart jumped the highest when my dear friend Kristine, our Siberia teammate and first Seattle friend, called to let us know that her family’s return to Seattle was finally happening. And it beat fastest when two dear friends went into labor early, one with twins. Thankfully, all the teeny-tiny babies are thriving.

Harry: I really enjoyed having Dave, Kathleen’s brother, stay with us for a couple weeks after his duties on his ship were finished. I think all of us had a great time. We shared lots of great talk, drinks, and meals, including a dream night at Canlis for Dave, Kathleen, and me on my birthday.

Charlie: “I remember trying to cheer up girls at the gym that we went to today. I really like the little bug that I got for Christmas. One of my favorite things about Uncle Dave visiting is that I was sleeping and then I woke up and I saw Uncle Dave sleeping there right in front of my eyes!”

Miles: “Hi.”

Favorite Websites

Kathleen: All of last year’s sites still remain favorites, but I add Ashley Rodriguez’s Not Without Salt to the mix. This is now my go-to blog for very unhealthy but delicious desserts or anything chocolate related. (Try her chocolate chip cookie recipe. I dare you.) I can’t wait to make more of her recipes since those I’ve made have all been incredible. I also really love Ashley’s photography and writing. If you haven’t figured it out by now, if I’m not on email or Facebook, I pretty much spend my online time reading food blogs or watching food related shows.

Harry: I read the misnamed Hacker News on a daily basis. Glitch is filled with good, creative quirk. Netflix for shows.

Charlie: PBS Kids.

Miles: Arts & Letters Daily.

Favorite or Funniest Thing Miles Says

Kathleen: It’s pretty hilarious that any time we talk about the Seattle Children’s Theatre (which is very frequent because it’s where Charlie attends preschool), Miles says “monorail!” This sometimes refers to the monorail, but usually refers to the Space Needle, which remains strongly mislabeled despite months of proper modeling. He also says monorail to anybody who talks to him on the phone. I think he’s figured out how cute it is and is getting a lot of mileage from it. I also love that he used to say “dakuum” all the time (for vacuum, which referred to anything with a motor and wheels). He wanted us to make Tinkertoy vacuums and he’d drive them, fly them or vacuum with them. Lastly, I love that he answers yes with a strong, quick “heh” and yells “ai ai ai” when he’s mad about something.

Harry: What’s not to like? His word for yes is “huh” with a big nod of the head. He tries hard to say basketball because he received a small hoop for Christmas. His best friend is a little stuffed animal called Tiger and he often says, “Tiger, where ARE you?” in a kind of sing-song voice. When he’s giving you something he says “he go” (Here you go), also in a high-pitched, sing-song voice. His typical greeting to someone new is to say “monowaya” (monorail). But I have no idea why he chooses that as a greeting over, say, “coffee” or “backyard” or “hi” or something less arbitrary.

Charlie: “Here are some of his faces that I think are funny [Charlie now shows us some of his funny faces]. My favorite face to make Miles laugh is this.”

Miles: “Monorail.”

Favorite Toy

Kathleen: Our camera’s new lens is quickly becoming a favorite! I also probably love my new immersion blender/mini food processor more than one should love an appliance.

Harry: I bought an iPad for my business. In its spare time iPad likes to double as a music recording studio, a game machine, a movie theater, a magazine and book container, and several other nouns.

Charlie: “The marble track. The magnetic block cars. The orange tool box.”

Miles: Train tracks. Tinkertoys. Marble tracks. Basketball hoop.

Plans for 2012

Kathleen: I have a huge stack of books waiting for me at the downtown library, mostly about education, learning and child development. Reading these will be my primary focus during my free time for the next few months as we contemplate what Charlie will do for kindergarten. I have signed up for an indoor sprint triathlon in April and plan on doing an outdoor one in late summer. This means I will be exercising much more regularly than I do now or I will be immobile in early April. I plan on becoming a better gardener, cook, baker and photographer. With lots of help I will grow in grace, patience and my ability to savor the moment instead of worry about the future or pursue perfection. And I will take at least one really big risk that scares me silly and makes me rely on my faith. I am really hoping to not move homes this year. Or the next, for that matter.

Harry: This year I plan to grow the business with a couple products of my own. For learning, I’m still completely engrossed in non-fiction and this is unlikely to change this year. There’s so much to know! Sitting on my table right now are Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Guns, Germs, and Steel, Philosophical Investigations, Unix Power Tools, The Unix Programming Environment, Concrete Mathematics, and The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. If I get through them all by next year, it will be a miracle. Finally, I plan to ride in the Seattle to Portland bike race in July. Wish me luck!

Charlie: “It does make me really excited if we would go to the Pacific Science Center and I could use the digger. And we could go and see those crazy bugs that we have now that run around on the track.”

Miles: “raf.” [Giraffe]

That’s a Wrap

Finally, here are some of our favorite pictures from 2011.

Miles, Charlie, Kathleen, and Harry

Happy 3rd Birthday, Charlie!

Our sweet boy turned three years old today.  He’s an absolute delight and amazes us in many ways.  He is rather musical, singing and humming nearly all the time that he’s not talking.  His life just has rhythm.  He loves making up songs with us but also can’t get enough of U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album.  I am certain we have listened to Beautiful Day at least 200 times in the last few months.

Charlie appears to not forget anything.  I’m starting to wonder if he has a memory like his Uncle Steve.  If so, he’ll remember nearly everything from 18-months on.  Yikes.  It takes him just a few readings of a most books to memorize them.  He’s repeating segments of movies, books, conversations, etc… that were heard months ago.  He’s also a big word-lover.  He loves rhyming and making up new words.  He’s beginning to break apart the sounds in words and loves telling us the beginning sounds that he’s hearing-  “Mama, scuba starts with scoop.”  I *love* these blossoming pre-literacy skills and probably delight in this too much!  (This is a good reminder that I need to stop saying “crap.”  If this comes out of his mouth, I’m totally to blame.  I seem to have had it spit out a few times in the last few weeks…mostly in the form of crappers.  Maybe people will think he’s talking about people who capture animals since he’s still fronting his /k/ sound.  Phew, I’m off the hook!)

He almost always brings smiles to the faces of those who meet him.  Today, while picking out his birthday treat at Fran’s chocolates (his choice over cupcakes-see description attached to picture in last post), the employees were smitten.  “Isn’t he so cute?”  We hear this a lot.  It is rather endearing to have a three foot tall little boy approach you confidently and clearly ask for a chocolate that is “far away” (huh?!).  When provided with his choices, Charlie picked the “blue chocolate”, which happened to be an oolong tea truffle.  I think he was drawn to it’s lovely blue flower.  True to habit, he then made sure that Harry & I each picked one out, too.  He is king of sharing and amazingly adept at keeping people in the loop.  Even absolute strangers will get offered his snacks if they merely glance at him sideways.

According to Charlie, he’s a “big boy” and he’s “huge.”  These were some of his first words this morning after we wished him a happy birthday.  While Harry and I don’t use the term big boy, many people do, and I love that Charlie equates it with size right now.  Overnight, he grew three feet in his mind.  I’d much rather him think this than that he is somehow more responsible now so that he feels pressured to act older than he is.  Let’s face it, he’s already three going on thirty with his “no thank you”s and “how are you today, papa?”s and “I’m well”s.

Annual Shots:

As all parents would write, there is too much to say about him than can be written.  Therefore, in an effort to remember the little details that are too quickly forgotten and keep our extended family up to date, I am going to write here more often!  Until next post, trust that the little boy is a top-notch three year old.  Deeply loved, loves deeply.  Happy Birthday, sweet pea.

Happy 2009!

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.

Favorite Books

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.

Charlie: Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go is an enormous hit, as is Sandra Boynton’s A to Z (he likes acting it out).

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.

Favorite Music

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.

Favorite Movies

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.

Big Challenges

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.

Charlie: stairs

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.

Best Surprise

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.

Favorite Foods

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.

Favorite Websites

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.

Favorite Animal

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.

Favorite Font

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.

Harry: Delicious

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.

Inspired By

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

You can have your cake, and pinch it, too

I got lots of requests for cake pictures, so here you are, fans of babies smeared in icing. I’m sorry to disappoint, however, because Charlie approached this first time treat with serious caution…just as he does most everything new. Along with the pictures, I’ve included a short clip of him being sung to and beginning to pinch his cupcake icing.

Cautiously approaching
Finally ready to dig in
The icing looks like stitches!
Post-party coma

Charlie’s Birthday Party from kloveoirs on Vimeo.

Happy 2008!

The questions we answered last year still feel relevant this year so we’re going to answer them again.

What are you happiest about?

Kathleen: Having a baby.
Harry: Having a baby.

What’s the baby’s name?

Kathleen: Justin Uhlotta
Harry: Asurp Rize

No, really

…did some of you fall for that last year? We know you did. Here’s the birth announcement we posted last year.

Share a memorable laugh you had

Harry: These are two of my favorites: Charlie and the Crazy Cow; The Hand

Kathleen: I like Harry’s choices, as well as a night not so long ago when Harry talked while sucking in air and I communicated only through gesturing. Harry’s inhalation comments made me laugh so hard that I was crying.

If you could walk through any door, what would you like it to open to?

Kathleen: The honest answer is the inside of our friends’ homes in Seattle.

Harry: The honest answer is the inside of one of these.

Who is your favorite neighborhood cat?

Kathleen: Do coyotes count?

Harry: Yeah, I think the coyotes eat the cats around here because I’ve never seen one.

Will you be happy to say goodbye to anything from 2007?

Kathleen: Moving.

Harry: If I’m honest, my job at UW. I enjoyed the people, of course, but the job dynamics didn’t fit my personality. I was there 6 years, probably 4 too many.

Who has inspired you?

Kathleen: Harry. Charlie. Angie. Nickie.

Harry: Kathleen is my hero. I’m inspired by her endless thoughtfulness for Charlie, me, her family, and her friends. She has more care and concern for people than anyone I know.

When do you feel like time flies?

Kathleen: When I reflect on how much Charlie has changed since birth!!! Otherwise, it’s felt quite slow this year.

Harry: Working on Jetrecord. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Any favorite movies or videos?

Kathleen: All our videos of Charlie on Vimeo. Bourne Ultimatum. Ocean’s 13.

Harry: Dramatic Prairie Dog, I Trusted You, Beverly Hills Cop, Bridge to Terabithia (watched without sound on the plane to Louisiana), Superbad, and surprisingly, Blades of Glory. Yet again we’re way behind the times on movies. We became Netflix members this year so I hope we’ll at least catch a few recent releases.

Any favorite music or books?

Kathleen: I’m still playing the same music from last year’s post! I finally read One Hundred Years of Solitude which was incredible, but probably not a good choice when I’m feeling a bit of solitude myself these days…

Harry: As for music I discovered The Acorn this year. I also bought Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows and I love it. Sadly, no books to mention. And really, my music appreciation has been restricted to passive listening at work so I’m not sure that counts, either. Maybe four years from now when someone buys the business for $20M I’ll take some time to read fiction again.

Favorite web sites?

Kathleen: Same answer as last year: “I’m not much of a web surfer, so my vote is for my email account. Harry always shows me funny sites, so I get to see the good stuff without searching for it.” Although—and I’m hesitant to admit—I joined Facebook after getting roped in by a friend (you know who you are!).

Harry: Tip: for the last few years I’ve found all my interesting sites from two places: Delicious/popular and kottke.org. Of course there’s more going on out there but that’s where I start. I joined Twitter in March. Interesting communication medium.

Other than the baby, what are you looking forward to this year?

Kathleen: For the first time in my life, I have almost no idea what this year will bring…apart from spending most of my time with Charlie. I hope to get back to work (very) part-time if we can figure out good care for Charlie and I hope to visit Seattle. I am looking forward to starting the seeds of new friendships and fellowship, growing relationships in Colorado, and the treasured conversations with friends of old.

Harry: The day after Christmas this year I realized that I have everything in life that I’d ever hoped for. That said, I’m looking forward to opening the doors on Jetrecord for the second year in a row.

The End.

As always, we update Loveoirs from time to time with our thoughts so you can keep up with what we’re doing. Our photos (all 2,700 of them) are still on Flickr and we’ve put together a set of 2007 highlights to spare all of you who aren’t his grandparents from looking through our hundreds of pictures of Charlie. Our videos are on Vimeo. Everything else will at least be mentioned here.

Cheers and Happy New Year!