End of the School Year

We made it!

My four sons completed an entire school year as virtual learners and I made it through an entire year of teaching preschool in-person. I absolutely never want to experience teaching and learning during a pandemic – or any other crisis – ever again but I think we made it as successful as possible. The boys also had some opportunities that may not have been available to them in a regular year – such as participating in online film festivals and attending conferences. I think we can all agree, however, that this year was incredibly exhausting and that we were glad to get to the end of the school year.

We had another birthday to celebrate since I last wrote a personal blog post. Our youngest son turned 12 at the end of May. We were lucky to have some lovely weather which enabled us to celebrate with an outdoor activity. I would call this crazy golf but it is apparently known as mini golf around here. Thanks to some childhood experiences, I find crazy golf makes me feel stressed and anxious so I chose to spectate rather than actively participate. The course was fun, well-designed, and had an appropriate level of challenge for kids spanning the ages of my brood. The 15 and 12 year olds even managed to achieve a hole-in-one each. Everyone indulged in delicious milkshakes at the end of the course.

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Over a year of being largely stuck at home meant our tired and shabby family living room was really starting to annoy us so our Spring project was refreshing that room. You can see what the previous makeover of this room like in a previous blog post. We did not undertake any major DIY but we replaced the carpet – as we still had the carpet installed by the previous owners, one that was really getting worn and grotty – and bought new sofas. The whole room now feels much lighter while still being cozy. I have more DIY and home organization projects to undertake over the summer break – things I could not get around to while everyone was learning and working from home – but my first big jobs are turning all of our rooms back to domestic spaces. The makeshift classrooms descended into chaotic rats’ nests towards the end of the school year and I am more than ready to transition them back and reclaim them.

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I am trying to get back into the habit of making regular time for art. It was absolutely impossible in the last couple of months, however, as my schedule was ridiculously difficult to navigate. I would have needed to clone myself to make it work smoothly. I, therefore, continued with my Post-It note habit, still taking inspiration from the movies my kids have been loving. These two examples both happen to be from Japanese movies, ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Hara-Kiri’.

PostIt - Good Morning
PostIt - Hara-Kiri

Two of our kids are moving on to new places in their education. Our 14 year old is now done with Middle School and will be heading off to High School in September. He has been learning to cook over the past few months and especially enjoys getting up on weekend mornings to make chocolate chip pancakes for him and his brothers. He is also really into digital art now.

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The big milestone is that our oldest son graduated from High School. This was a whole new experience for us as people as well as parents. My husband attended an international school so he did not have the American version of graduating. There were no festivities for me when I left school. My “milestone” was simply leaving my last school exam. I snapped my pencil in half and walked home. No celebration of any kind. The whole graduation thing was actually pretty overwhelming. Despite opting out of lots of “side missions”, there was an awful lot to keep on top of and process. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was required, I would realize there was another piece of critical information I was missing or something I did not understand. There was so much assumed knowledge in communications about graduation with no accommodations for we ignorant immigrant parents. Keeping on top of all the moving parts was actually quite a slog. Even the evening itself did not pass off without a few glitches but we (just) made it in time and had a lovely time marking the conclusion to our son’s school career.

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Home Makeover – Family Living Room

As I explained in a previous post about gradually making over our home, our house dates from 1970.  Home owners of the 1970s appear to have had a fondness for wood panelling and our new home was no exception.  When we moved in, the family living room was very dark and felt small because all four walls were dark wood panelling.  That was not for us: we wanted the room to feel light and spacious.  Part of our aim in redecorating the house, however, is to maintain some of the original features.

In the case of the family living room, two of the walls were lined with storage cabinets.  On the window wall, there are cupboards with lattice work doors.  One of the cupboards was designed to house a television set.  The opposite wall – which also serves as a corridor between the formal living room and the kitchen – is lined with almost full height, deep cupboards.  The central two doors of the four open up to reveal a cocktail cabinet.  How awesome is that?  When we came to view the house, I was instantly smitten by the idea of having my very own cocktail cabinet.  I was won over by that particular original feature.  Of course, the reality is that what I actually store in there is baking equipment, salad bowls and serving platters.  But some day I will fill it with ingredients for cocktails.  As a family of six, storage was important to us when we were looking for a house to buy in America.  I was sold on this house partly because of all the good quality, sturdy storage available throughout the house.  So all the cupboards in the family living room had to stay.

That decision taken, we knew we had a few different surface types to deal with.  We decided to paint directly onto the wood panelling and cupboard doors in order to unify them while also retaining the original features and the textures they provided.  We went for a very pale stone paint in order to make the room as light as possible.

The before photos were taken once we had been living here a few months so we had already purchased new sofas and the media unit.  The photos still illustrate what the walls and cupboards looks like, however.

Before - Living Room B

Before - Living Room C

These are the after photos.  The room is much lighter as a result of the painting and, therefore, looks more spacious.  We have also been able to personalise the space by having a gallery of our art work – half of which is by me – on the sofa wall and objects we have collected over the decades displayed on the media unit.

After - Living Room D

After - Living Room E

After - Living Room F

We still have a couple of projects left to attend to in this room: the walls have speakers built into them and the fronts of those speakers are brown so we would like to replace that brown mesh with something lighter; there is a copper plant trough beneath the window which we have a plan for but which we have not gotten around to yet; and the oriental style handles on the cabinet doors need to be replaced with something more contemporary and less stabby.