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Friday, 16 November 2018

Abbreviations

So this journey of abbreviations of ours started just before the kids broke for Summer 2017 holidays. It is now Autumn 2018 as I compose this.

Sometime in Spring 2018, an acquaintance of mine, a fellow mother at The Big School, posted a video on her Facebook wall about parents who missed the early diagnosis of their children for autism and the video contained this uncanny flapping of the hands (stimming) which is one of the red flags or indicators of children with autism. It goes on to conclude that not all stimming is autism but it is better to screen and introduce early intervention, than not.

Something in me reactivated. 

I was supposed to follow up with Baby & Beyond for a screening appointment for Bean sometime in 2018. I had made that request in Summer 2017. We got on the wait list soon after Bean's class teachers at The Playschool had dropped the bomb on us during our exit meeting after we had served notice of leaving back in 2017 that they suspect he may be autistic. It was the wrong message at the wrong time with the wrong people and deserves its own post. They had him enrolled for 30 months and never once hinted or indicated to us that he may be on the spectrum so to funnel us to another business entity with common directors for occupational therapy sounded really sinister to us.

What happened after that exit meeting was instead of serving out the notice period of one term before Bean joined The Big School, we took him out immediately and had our deposit forfeited for short notice. I can tell you it was worth every cent forfeited.

When he joined The Big School, it was a smaller class with better teacher:student ratio. In fact, he improved so much that I decided it was fine for me to return to workforce.

Boy, was I wrong.

In the 6 months I was a working mum, Bean regressed, symptoms-wise. He started to stutter (something new), slept irregularly (something new), became more rigid (no one else is allowed to press the lift button including strangers), became more fixated (cars, superheroes) and became a picky eater (hard, crunchy food only, often leaving out fruits and vegetables).

I was in a fix. 

Coming back to the point of that random video on Facebook: I contacted the clinic again and was given a slot to bring Bean in and at that point, we had answered a few questionnaires, his primary carer and teacher at The Big School had given her input/observation and I had pretty much decided to quit my comeback career to give him my time and devotion.

The Summer of 2018 was the summer Bean did 3 rounds of assessments (1 for speech, 1 for child wellness and 1 child IQ/Puzzle/Cognitive). I put in hours to answer more questions and online global tests. Finally, all of these assessments were completed and a cohesive report for initial findings was published.

Bean is likely to be on the spectrum. "Mild ASD, HFA likely" may seem like abbreviations to you but oh it has opened up a world of new discoveries for us a family who loves Bean and working on our way to re-engage with him. 

To be honest, our plans and parenting styles had been Girl-centric before this. These abbreviations has been a game-changer as we seek to close the gaps, help Bean form neurons in social and behavioral aspects, seek out better schooling options and other early intervention measures. It has been a journey that brought new routines into our lives that included hippotherapy, social and play therapies and such.

Quite often, I recognize points of what had seemed so difficult in the past when dealing with Bean, now makes sense and I consciously put in more effort and empathy in being a better person to Bean.

I am so thankful for that video because it prompted me to act. 

So it is true, always trust your gut instincts as a mother.
Thursday, 8 November 2018

Post-Renovation

Syukur alhamdulillah, The Flat is finally ready after a short delay!

We moved back on Deepavali Day a couple of days ago and it feels like home. The gratitude and relief of working with the right people, who understood our wishes, budget and timeline makes all the sacrifices and inconveniences worth it.

All our bedrooms walls were stripped of wallpaper and now painted white. The entire ceiling is white. All our curtains except Girl's bedroom is white. The walls at living and dining are magical indeed - it is a shade of grey slate known as "Abracadabra" from Nippon Paints. They look fresh now. The previous wallpapers have served their time and purpose to the maximum and were beautiful then.

The concealment of air conditioner wires look neat, plaster ceiling leak patches have been repaired, cracks have been hacked then sealed and door frames have been stripped of the temporary wallpaper covering and repainted white.

We also have 2 units of the living and dining hall air-conditioner replaced. Although the new units are somewhat "noisier", this is still the better choice with consistent performance so far. Hopefully the electricity bill savings will show by the next billing.

Our new timber doors have been customized and will be delivered for installation soon. They are also painted, you guessed it right, white!

Alhamdulillah it is good to be home again. Now, moving on to the repopulation and unpacking mayhem...wish me luck!
Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Merit!

Salam my lovelies,

We just got news that Girl scored a merit for her Grade 9 Yamaha piano exams. We are so thankful to her wonderful teacher, without whom this would have been impossible.

I now owe Girl one more promised present! If she had scored Distinction, she would have achieved 2 more gifts. She was rewarded one gift upon completion of the exams for dressing up, attending and doing the exams without drama. This tiered reward system seems to work at the moment.

To imagine that I once was that Tiger Mum who made her practice, "forced and bribed" her to class on Saturday afternoons when she much preferred to laze about not doing anything, and sometimes sharing the sob story of how much I wanted to play the piano when I was little but my late father did not have the budget for it...all I can say is I am so proud of her and yet humbled by His Gift. Alhamdulillah!

Let the music play on, I am so happy her hardwork paid off. She has a long way to go but this is a step in the right direction. Stay blessed, Girl. Aamiin.

The Flooring

Salam my lovelies,

We are not quite ready to place laminated wood over our marble flooring just yet. Upon second thoughts, second opinions and further reading, it "cheapens" The Flat and whilst we are not selling our home, we are not completely certain that laminated wood is the solution to our concerns.

What if the air cond leaks when we are away? The warranty says "waterproof" and yet we are not 100% certain to commit.

Speaking of the air cond...the unit near our playroom is wonky. It turns off and on before settling on "on mode" upon being switched on. Then it blows warm air. After a while, it will blow cold air if it is a cool day outside. On a hot day, it blows warm air. Needless to say, the contractor is coming to "sign its death warrant" this Friday.

The other air cond unit at our dining hall is somewhat better behaved. Alhamdulillah for that.

With these pending work and the move to The Flat At Block B (home away from home while we renovate), I am going to be bogged down this October. In my quiet joyful moment, forced spring cleaning is always good for my soul as all our worldly possessions go into keep, donate or recycle categories. Most of the children's books and art go to keep, their outgrown outfits find their way to the donation box and random 1001 items that do not spark joy end up in recycle box.

This is one journey I am determined to enjoy and be thankful for, inshaAllah. Wish us luck!


Saturday, 29 September 2018

The Search

Salam my lovelies,

Before we decided on carrying out the minor renovation to upkeep The Flat, we considered flipping The Flat for a landed property closer to school.

We saw 3 units of double-storey linked houses at Taman Tun Dr Ismail and my parents-in-law even tagged along. The first was too dark, the second was too depilated and the third was facing Petron! All 3 quickly got struck off the list despite what we call "Mummy's eternal love for Taman Tun Dr Ismail". I spent years living there and I know the area well enough. Unfortunately, things do not work out this time.

Then, we saw this wonderful double storey semi-detached house at Kiara View. The garden patch on both sides of the house, double security gating, and fairly quiet neighbourhood were all charming. However, the main power grid in that area was too close for comfort. That outshined our minor complaint that the street was both cul de sac and narrow. We were hoping to escape the upcoming 5G EMF radiation in the city so we were careful in our search to avoid transmission towers and power grids.

There is a house facing the school which is still being put up for sale but the price tag is beyond our budget. I still say a prayer every now and then for the house to wait for us...and maybe I will stop when The Kids have both gone to university.

So, here we are. Selecting the main-contractor to help us maintain The Flat in good order for the next decade, inshaAllah. In any case, I am looking forward to filling The Flat with more plants.

Wish us luck!


The Flat

Salam my lovelies,

We have been living at The Flat since Deepavali of 2011. Seeing Facebook Memories from the time we received the keys to furnishing and adding some final touches to The Flat brings me fond memories. Back then, I was so much more confident in my choices, and resilient in dealing with interior designers, delinquent contract workers and bouncing back from it all to delivering The Flat satisfactorily.

I did all that while Girl was an active 16 months old and The Other Half was still working 12 hours a day for 4 days in a week. We had no helpers and I remember driving Girl home one evening at 5:30 p.m. after seeing off the contractors for that day. She cried and threw a tantrum in the car from exhaustion and there was once the 3 of us walked from Corinthian to Hampshire en route dinner at Ampang Park to peep at our lovely wallpapers and lights. I was definitely younger and had more energy...

The reason why I am noting this journey with The Flat is because I am out of "fire" or courage and need to find that brave old me. 

We are in the midst of searching for a suitable main-contractor to help us with some maintenance and upkeep of plaster ceiling, door frames and wall. The plaster ceiling has suffered some leaks from the central air-conditioning leaks over the last few years. In the last 6 months, the leaks have finally stopped but left some unsightly watermarks. We were in a quagmire about replacing the central air-conditioning or not before repairing the plaster ceiling. So far, it appears to be working well and we just have to take the plunge at some point to carry on.

Our door frames have been the worst nightmare for us as they left paint bubbles that cracked and released fine dust which we have covered with wallpaper for "interim" measure. It trapped all that fine dust since 2012, and 6 years of interim measure has been working so well for us. Now, to replace the door frames will mean cracking wall and floor tiles which we are not ready to finance. It looks like we have to resort to conventional ratification of stripping, sanding down and repainting of the door frames. 

The wallpapers in all bedrooms and living/dining areas will be removed in the process of us repairing some cracks and concealing some wires. We seem to find external wiring with white PVC tubing covers done by the air-conditioner installers when we replaced 2 units of air-conditioners for The Kids' room disturbingly unsightly. That will call for the walls to be repainted. Our wallpapers have hit their lifespan, but they were the loveliest way of concealing settling cracks on our walls since 2011. 

On a positive note, we have found Floor Depot to be still the best fit for all our flooring needs (cracked and chipped marble to be covered up with laminated floor boards) but that is the last item on our top to bottom sequence. We can only book and lock in their current sale price once we confirm the main-contractor next week.

In the past week, we have met 4 different possible main-contractors who showed up at The Flat for an assessment. All the leads came from Kaodim but we cross-checked their reviews on other websites and apps too, just to be safe. We are likely to select the one with the best review, albeit more pricey as the best and honest opinions have come from that fourth and final appointment today. The Other Half and I share the same sentiment that we may have to pay a small premium for the best possible outcome with the team who seem to understand our concerns and targets.

Wish us luck!
Thursday, 6 September 2018

Working From Home: Focus Mode

Salam my lovelies,

Now that The Kids are settling into school routine again, I find myself really grateful to be able to work from home, encore. My day starts at 5:45 a.m. on weekdays as I prepare bento meals of breakfast and lunch for Girl including after-school snacks on her CCA days. Bean gets meals from The Big School (and sometimes gets to prepare, cook or serve as well!), so I usually just have to include his afternoon tea snacks while he waits for Girl on her CCA days. 

Working from home requires discipline. This serves more as a reminder to myself than to others.

The Kids usually leave by 7:15 a.m. with The Other Half. Once they leave, I devote x number of hours to start and complete a particular task. Once that task is completed, I move on to settle other items on that task list or attend work appointments before finally attempting house chores. Luckily for me, bulk of my work is during month-end and first week of the month, which leaves me with 2-3 weeks of being able to follow The Kids during school runs. 

You'd be amazed how much faster "work" gets done with focus compared to multitasking. Well, at least for me, Alhamdulillah. Yesterday, I got some vital work and an online questionnaire for Bean's clinical psychologist filled out just in time for school pick-up. That was a huge burden off my chest. 

Until my next post, have a happy week ahead!

**off to tackle another questionnaire from The Big School for Bean**