One of the most fascinating parts of being a parent is seeing kids who were once little seedlings grow up, branch out and become who they are! We always say, “We have nine kids, one of every kind”! And indeed we do! The past two weeks it has been so fun to observe four of our children’s adult lifestyles. One in San Francisco, two in Phoenix and one in Hawaii. The oldest and youngest are still single. The other two are parents of nine of our grandchildren. They couldn’t be more different.
I think all our kids would agree that Jonah and his extraordinary wife Aja have chosen a lifestyle that is not for the faint hearted! They are workers! They buy houses sadly in need of repair and make them livable, whilst living there! We knew what Aja was made of when they began their first project. They moved to New Zealand and a few weeks before they found a house to buy, they lived in the back of the their station wagon or at camp sites. In addition to having a fiesty two year old, Aja was seven months pregnant! They bought the house, flipped it (that sounds easy) and sold it for a very nice profit.
Jonah is a contractor and after building eight luxury homes in St. George, including one for he and Aja, they decided that lifestyle and the stress that goes with it wasn’t for them! Fortunately all but their own home that they built were sold before the recession hit. The next year, however, they sold their beautiful home for a little more than half what it was worth the year before and headed for a new adventure in Sequim, Washington which you can view here.
A few months ago they decided to sell that property and move to Hawaii with their four adorable children. After finding a good deal on a house in Upcountry Maui, they have secured the foundation (no small task), moved walls and windows, built stairs and a small deck at the front door, cleared out years of underbrush, sanded, spackled, painted walls, installed a bathroom and an infinite number of other details that we don’t even know about.
In the meantime, they are homeschooling their kids, finding grand Hawaiian adventures and making new friends. Next week they will be ready to lay a new bamboo floor in their cute little house built in 1924. Since you can’t walk on the new floor for a couple of days, they are planning to camp outside and crawl in the bathroom window for showers. How about that for an interesting adventure?
We were glad to be there to help a little (well at least I was). This expression on Rick/Dad’s face clearly says, “Where is Eric when I need him?”
We called this, The Big Burrito. They are serious about being green in Hawaii. No plastic bags…even at the grocery store and Farmer’s Markets. Some have paper bags but they expect you to bring your own re-useable bags or carry things away with your hands.
They have a beautiful cherry tree and you can actually see it now that all that stuff is gone! There are enough cherries on this beautiful tree to feed all of Hawaii excellent cherry jam, which their friend in the jam business is delighted about.
Aja’s great mom who had been there for 11 days was still there for Cam’s baptism when we got there and had spackled and sanded and painted rooms like this as well as washing and organizing until I’m sure she was seeing it in her sleep! They are now ready to lay the bamboo floors and paint and replace the baseboards as well as add to the four electrical outlets in the house.
Just look at all that sparking white beadboard! Also the master bedroom and kids’ room where they are still living out of their suitcases!
Adding the cabinets will improve the kitchen situation drastically. The uppers had only been installed a few hours before we got there. That Aja is truly amazing! She can work around anything! Jonah cooked us some tasty meals out of this kitchen and Cam makes oatmeal for breakfast in the crock pot every night before he goes to bed.
They have a beautiful new shower but no bathtub for the little kids yet. Absolutely no problemo:
Jonah is still priding himself on running his diesel-turned-greasel Merecedes on vegetable oil. They have gone 140,000 miles without paying a penny for gas. This is his gas tank, filter and bucket for filling it up with oil from the Mexican food restaurant a few blocks away. He has a pump which works with jumper cables on the car and wallah!
Someone who was moving to the mainland and who was a carpenter and painter sold Jonah his tools.
They have four of the brightest children you would ever want to meet! The previous two posts show the fun we’ve had outside the house but we had our share of fun inside the house too. Below they are watching The Piano Guys on the only “TV” in the house!
Chess was the game of choice. Somehow the kids always won! (?)
It was fun to see the kids working on their home school projects. Ana and Camden presented a fun play in Spanish to us last night. Elsie talks non-stop, goes to ballet and Joy School and knows everything! Po is an adorable baby full of spunk and a killer smile!
One of the very funniest things that we encountered while there was our rental car. Jonah called everywhere to get us one before we got there but there wasn’t one to be found! After we got there though, Jonah found someone who said he had one car left. After we rented it, we knew why. The windows wouldn’t go up or down, the trunk wouldn’t open the driver’s door wouldn’t shut, the tie rods (whatever that was) were loose and it sounded as though the bottom was going to fall out of the car at any moment. The one window that absolutely wouldn’t close soaked the seat with every rain storm so we had to get a towel to sit on before we entered and it had truly hideous, totally worn out Hawaiian fabric on the seats! It doesn’t look that bad….but it was~ Absolutely hilarious. Man were we glad to get that baby turned in!
While we were pretty mad at a wild rooster that loved to start cock-a-doodling under our bedroom window every morning at 3 a.m. every few minutes until it was light, Aja was happy to just be feeding her three chicks, waiting patiently (for a few months) for the eggs, which are about $5-7 a dozen! Food prices are pretty amazing!
This house is a project that is truly unbelievable, but with the help of yard sales, the Salvation Army and especially Craig’s List, they are going to come out the other end with flying colors! If just one of this partnership wasn’t on board for something this hard, it would be a disaster but they are both amazingly committed to fewer needs and lots of hard word. Though they have a nice financial nest egg, this idea was carefully planned and is being meticulously carried forward….again. I’m sure we’ve put a hanger in the works on the progress of the house while we were there with all our temptations to play. They are planning to have it transformed in just a few weeks. No one will ever know what that will take!
On our last day. while Poem slept and then pitter-patted around the house, I had a chance to get in on a little of the painstaking spackling, and sanding that they’ve been doing room by room and a few loads of washing. Aja has a new washer and dryer that someone didn’t need. The washer is hooked up but the dryer is going to take some time. I knew Aja would be mad at me because she had just told me that she loves to do the wash…but I just couldn’t resist. She has a very clever “dryer”. It’s a discarded metal bed frame that they just fits the bill!
Meanwhile…the others (at my request) went on the fun well-loved-by-our-family Bamboo Hike! Eyrealm members will recognize the pictures below.
Dad in awe of his favorite plant!
And Cam was having quite a lot of fun too!
We ended our “Big Hawaiian Bash” on the last night at Mama’s Fish House. There isn’t much better food anywhere on earth. YUM! It included lots of wonderful Hawaiian fish, Penang curry and wild boar.
Man does this couple deserve a gourmet meal (outside their home) once in a while. They are truly The Incredibles!
We not only love these guys, we admire them. Jonah who is a brilliant strategist and creative thinker never ceases to amaze us. He is strong as an ox but works with pain in his legs and some in his back every day from being hit by a car when he was a teenager. Aja, who was Miss Las Vegas and graduated from Harvard is simply astounding with her passion for adventure and incredible creativity and patience with chaos. What they are doing takes a lot of courage, fortitude, incredibly hard work and is definitely not for the faint-hearted!
Back to the real world and our snow-covered yard in Park City!