Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 2016

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

We are settling in after our epic year. I'm thankful we're through all the planning, decision making,
hard physical work, instability, unknowns, and lack of routine that came with our year of moving from place to place.  It's been a hard year, but worthwhile in the hope that it will yield a more thriving fruitful life. We're rebuilding our new life now. At the moment, this is what it looks like:

Rebecca:  I try to start my day with a little personal time after I get Ella a sippy cup of protein shake to enjoy with her morning cartoons and with her big brother Ben. I drink my coffee in my room in a little nook I made for myself until Ella gets a stinky diaper or is ready for her real breakfast. I can usually squeeze 30-45 minutes in for myself. Then I homeschool Ben, while simultaneously keeping Ella busy to avoid the mischief an active, curious, and unwatched toddler can get into, until we have to drive to our afternoon activities. Our house is up a mountain about 30 minutes from the main city where all our activities are. Once I'm home again, I make dinner for our super-sized household: My family of five, my parents, and my brother. Once the kids are in bed, I wind down with my husband, "my stories" aka Netflix, and some chardonnay. 

I enjoy the beautiful drive everywhere I go. I love that we live in the country with lots of space between neighbors. I love when Jon and I walk Ella to the pond next to our house to feed the ducks or to see the moo (aka cow). I love exercising with my family on the beach bike path. I love being near the ocean and feeling the salty breeze while I briskly walk. I love watching the boys ride bikes, skateboard, or run with my brother while Jon and I get an hour to talk and connect while alternating walking our dog or pushing Ella in the stroller, all in the name of exercise. We've been going three miles each time we can get ourselves there. I love that winter brought more cool weather than I thought Hawaii would have and I can wear furry slippers and snugly sweaters.

Jon:  Jon wakes up super early, makes me a protein shake and coffee for all.  He has an hour commute to work. He often tells me about the beautiful sunrises and the many rainbows he sees on his drive to work. Jon has been employed by two different builders as a trim carpenter. He's never worked as a trim carpenter before, but at each job site his strengths quickly become recognized and he ends up highly valued. If the builder doesn't have another job lined up, the employees have to find another job. That's the case again for Jon. He's looking now for his next job. The benefit to this new situation for us is that all the top builders on the island are really getting to know Jon directly and know his reliability, his high skill level, his extremely high quality work, and his speed. In the future we'd love to build Jon a shop on our property. We would have an instant client base whenever we can make that dream happen. 

On the weekends when we don't have other plans, Jon works on remodeling our bathroom. He is doing an amazing job. I am so thankful to have such a hard working and highly skilled husband.

This is a busy season for Jon and I. There are a lot of demands on our time and energy. We are tired,  thankful for our blessings, and looking forward to more down time to rest and enjoy our new island home. 

Caleb (15 years old):  Caleb starts his day with his mom repeatedly waking him up, as he is a very sleepy teenager who always stays up too late the night before on his computer.  He then gets himself breakfast, plays some keyboard, and checks his emails and the Scratch website to see if they've highlighted one the games he made again. They have 3 times now, which is a big accomplishment for Caleb. He does his homeschool work independently. Then off we go to either robotics, youth group, or Bandwagon. Bandwagon a music program owned by Jon's brother and his wife, Jeremy and Julie.

Caleb started learning the piano in May.  Now in Dec, he is blowing minds with his playing ability.  He sounds like he has been playing for many years.  The piano just makes sense to his math and logic loving mind.  He is composing beautiful pieces.  We got him his own keyboard in Sept for his birthday and he already needs to upgrade.  Caleb will have to start saving.  I love that he has a new passion to enhance his life.

Caleb is also very active in the Kauaibots, a robotics group comprised of all four high schools on the island.  In a normal week he goes two weekday afternoons and eight hours on Sunday. He is focusing his time on learning CAD (computer aided drafting) software, design and engineering, math theory, and programming. He has come really far in the last six months. He earned his CAD CSWA certification showing his competence to work for hire. After an article in the newspaper about the students' big accomplishment, a local business generously hired Caleb and two of his teammates, helping them break into the industry, knowing that the first job is always the hardest to get. Caleb and his teammates are drawing a precise 3D engineering design of an ice cream shop with every object in the business accounted for in the design. It's quite an undertaking and we're very proud of how incredibly hard Caleb has worked at all he does! Upcoming is the team's six week build, where they will work like maniacs every waking moment for six weeks and then compete in San Diego and Oahu. Caleb has been chosen to be a part of the core leadership team in recognition for his dedication, competence, and hard work. We're so proud of him.

Ben (10 years old): Ben tries to wake up before mom so he can squeeze in more morning cartoons. Once Ella wakes up he helps keep on eye on her. He is so good at being actively engaging with Ella. She lights up with Ben. She is lucky to have such a fun and generous brother. It's fitting since Caleb was such a great big brother to Ben. I love watching my kids build and grow their love, connection, and relationships with each other. After breakfast we chip our way through Ben's homeschooling. Some days are easy and fast. Other days it's very hard for Ben to stay calm and/or stay focused. Either way, we make it through all the work. Two days a week Ben goes to Bandwagon. He is enjoying it and picking up a little here and there. I think he mostly enjoys playing with his cousins and his other new friends. I hear more about their awesome games of hide-and-seek than about what he's learning musically. It's all so good for him and I'm thankful for it all. He has plenty of time ahead and I'm happy he's still loving to just play. Ben is going through a growth spurt with his emotions. He has really drawn close to me as we work through it all together. I didn't go through that as much with Caleb and I'm loving the closeness that this phase is building between us, despite the difficulties. I'm thankful I get to be at home with my kids to catch so many moments: hard ones that allow us to work on character building, silly ones that lead to joyful play, and all the ones in between. I love watching the journey and growth in all my kids. Ben is spending a lot of time with his Uncle David, my brother. David can encourage Ben in ways no one else can. They exercise together, go play at the beach together, goof off with video games together, and work on different projects around the house together. I love the lifelong bond they're building. I love how much Ben enjoys and looks up to Uncle David.

Ella (2 years in February): Ella loves people! She comes alive whenever we're visiting with people or are in social settings. If people are around she does not get tired. She plays, dances, chatters, and grins ear to ear. She lights up whenever Grandma or Grandpa come out of their bedroom. She really loves when Daddy gets home from work! She loves the nursery at church. I make sure I say bye-bye to her, but she doesn't care. She is so happy to be there and has zero separation anxiety. This is new for me as a parent and it's wonderful. The downside is that she is also prone to explore and wander. She has a strong independent streak. She does not want to hold my hand when we are out unless she has to navigate anything she's not fully confident at, like a curb or stairs. She's discovered the fun of coloring with crayons, but she has a very short attention span. She's starting to mimic more sounds and I expect her language will be taking off soon. For now she tells you a whole lot with direct eye contact and animated expressions in her own baby language. She is a forceful little caretaker. She loves to make sure that Jon always has his hat and I always have my glasses, hair stick, flip flops, and phone. She will force them on you if you should ever be without one of those things. If we're visiting with Zeke, her cousin, she forces food, water, his pacifier, or his favorite stuffed animal on him, even if she has to take something away from him first so she can give it back. She's a good sleeper most of the time and I'm so thankful. It took us a lot of time and work to get to this stage with her sleep, but we're finally there. She loves to dance. The boys have taught her the Imperial March from Star Wars. She can sing the tune while doing a high knee march, toddler style. It's good fun for us all.


Blessings on you and yours!

The Hartshorns