Taking a short break, Ulloa and her father look at one another proudly over the kitchen island they assembled together.

Ulloa constructs meaningful memories with father

With the pandemic resulting in many losing their connections, math teacher Leah Ulloa and her father fought to strengthen their relationship. Spending hours diligently woodworking provided a space for the duo to find solace among the chaos of the world.

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Wooden slabs covered the work surface as the loud roaring of the table saw filled the air. A faint scratching sound was heard when sandpaper smoothed the wooden surface as math teacher Leah Ulloa worked alongside her father. Assembling the pieces and handling each other tools, memories were nailed into place as they made progress on the kitchen island. 

Following the start of the pandemic, Ulloa found herself needing new furniture, leading her to explore a new hobby that would also bring her relationship with her father closer: woodworking. Ulloa strived to join this pastime with her father who is experienced in woodworking and produces projects for friends.

“Woodworking has been a way for me to connect to my family, and that’s one of the blessings that I think has come out of this pandemic,” Ulloa said. “I felt like it was a relatively safe activity for us to do since we work outside, we wear masks, and we can keep socially distant.”

Already having a close relationship with her father, Ulloa views woodworking as a time for them to bond against the rotating hours of stress from working at home and the pandemic. The hours dedicated to working on the projects were heartwarming, allowing them to simply spend time together and converse. 

“My dad means the world to me,” Ulloa said. “I was always a daddy’s girl growing up. I didn’t get to woodwork with him when we were kids because we were in dance and stuff like that, so now, being able to do these projects with him has definitely been really special.”

Ulloa recalls a particular instance when her hearing was fading in the latest project due to the loud machinery. Her father joked by pretending that he was unable to hear her and kept making her repeat herself. When she realized he was joking, they both began to laugh. The memory not only provided laughter, but it was also when Ulloa was given her grandmother’s old headphones to protect her hearing while woodworking. 

“I was like, ‘This is so cool,’ because even though my grandma passed away, her spirit lives within me,” Ulloa said. “I just felt like she was doing this project with us as well. It really has brought together the love in my family.” 

Although Ulloa previously worried that woodworking might be too strenuous for her father, as he conducts the heavy lifting, her father constantly reassures her that he enjoys working alongside her. She specifically recalls a moment when he called his friend to share what a good time they were having, and it made it clear that any heavy workload was all worth it. 

“Sometimes, I forget that my dad is 71, but he does enjoy woodworking with me,” Ulloa said. “I hope that we can keep doing more projects together. I have all these little pieces around my house that my dad and I did together, so there is a memory in each piece of furniture.”

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