Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Settling In

Salam my lovelies,

We wish you a blessed Ramadhan. May our sins be forgiven and new Light on the Straight Path come our way during this holy month.

Alhamdulillah for all your prayers and kind wishes for our relocation. We now live within walking distance to school and have so far saved many precious hours of travelling time. Sometimes, it feels like we are living in a boarding school as quite a few neighbours here share the same ideals of living close to school too. We see part of the school community members at our common area outside of schooling hours so our children are somewhat on their best behaviour when we are at the park or pool. Running into a classmate or school teacher is almost a daily serendipity!

Alhamdulillah also for the defect liability period that the courtyard villa enjoys. We have saved thousands of ringgit in defects rectification so far. They seem like minor defects and perhaps inconvenient to arrange for the defects team to come over all the time but being the house-proud folks we are, follow-up with the management team is worth it. They have been accommodating all our requests so far, and we are thankful for their co-operation.

The Big School has been a blessing too. The Principal is new and already implementing a host of improvements and best practices for which The Other Half and I agree is worth every sen of school fees we are paying. Even the Parent Engagement Officer is on top of her work so induction and updates have been timely. It is sad to know she is going to be handing the portfolio to someone new but we are glad she will be moving to a teaching position now that her certifications are in place. She is going to be one wonderful teacher!

The support network in The Big School is strong with direct involvement from Principal and Heads of both Secondary and Primary. There is also a formally registered Parent Teacher Association with 15 office bearers. Every Friday, there is a morning coffee session for any parent to speak directly to them about any issues we may face. In the last fortnight, we have discussed good digital citizenship, creation of safe and happy environment to produce great learners and general improvement to safety/traffic/parking/meal plans/next academic year. Breath of much needed fresh air in our case as these features were sorely lacking in our previous school.

The Class Parent Support WhatsApp groups in our previous school were friendlier and warm though. The parents were vocal, closer and not suppressed in posting/sharing their views and comments. Everyone seemed more close and united. I guess in this new school, all parents have direct communication with the school with prompt replies and actions being taken, so the Class Rep WhatsApp group is somewhat less significant. 

Girl is slowly undoing her lackadaisical attitude acquired from her previous school and pulling up her socks here. She is more academically engaged, but I must admit she is relearning her social skills with all these new people she is meeting. Digital citizenship wise, she is being trained on her boundaries and responsible self-stewardship. May she overcome her forgetfulness and tone down her feistiness.

Bean is making new friends! His personal learning assistants/shadow aides are at hand and during the one week they were on holiday, he has been self-sufficient despite misplacing his iPad Pro on the first Monday and ended the week on Friday by tripping over himself and came home with lacerations and bruises. Oh, may Allah swt grant The Other Half and I more patience and courage when his symptoms kick in on his "off days".

As we unpack more boxes and make good this new home, we pray Girl and Bean (including us parents) will grow healthily, safely and happy here.

Take good care and have a wonderful month ahead.
Saturday, 13 April 2019

Moving Day

Salam my lovelies,

Moving Day is happening soon and Alhamdulillah our new home is sort of coming together in its final few days of home improvements and defects rectification.

New paint for walls, stripped and re-lacquered timber flooring, repurposed laundry room, lights, curtains and built-ins are all starting to come together now. The short month of planning, purchasing and waiting for everything to be pieced together were hectic and exhausting but emotionally rewarding. There will be more to do soon after we move in, I am sure.

Leaks have been filled with epoxy/silicone injections by the developer so let's pray all will be well, inshaAllah.

We have KonMari-ed most of our stuff last year for the renovation and home improvement so the load is much lighter now. A few bags of toys, books and DVDs have found their way to Kind Kones and Marmalade at Bangsar Village but I just know we can live with even lesser...

Books and uniform materials, all new and unused, from The Big School (now to be renamed The Former School) have been passed on to a close friend whose children are still registered. 

Both Girl and Bean chose not to have farewell parties as they feel they are still friends with their "school friends". They just happen to be friends who now go to different schools. Such a blessing, these two. They parted without drama, and made play dates with some close friends. Alhamdulillah for this ease.

We shall refer to our new school as The Big School and our new home as The Townhouse from now onwards. 

Wish us luck and ease with the relocation, including no scratches to our piano, pretty please. Oh, and good weather! Bismillah!
Sunday, 24 March 2019


Salam my lovelies,

We have been busy!

Transitioning is an active, fluid phase and we as a family is experiencing this process. So far, alhamdulillah, we are taking it in bite size daily although there are certain days when it can all feel overwhelming with heat/exhaustion/traffic. Good self-care skills for each and every one of us are vital!

Girl is doing double academic work, both from The Big School and The New School. There are obvious continuity and convenience despite being in two schools, as both are using British Curriculum. There are some differences in materials for Mathematics, French and Malay. We encourage her to embrace and appreciate the learning curve with our home tutoring support. We do as much as she can cope using whatever pockets of time we can carve out. So far, we have had not pushed ourselves that much so as not to burn her out.

Perhaps, the reason of my chillax mode is exhaustion. We have all been fully utilising all our available time and resources to put the new home ready in time for the relocation to be close to The New School. The Other Half supervises the work that is on-going at the new abode, while I do the paperwork (budget and finalizing quotations), research (so much to admire on Instagram and finding an affordable/available option) and purchases (driving, negotiating, loading, and sometimes pick-up of smaller items). Tick tock, the relocation date is looming close.

Girl had to follow me on some occasions after school. She loves interior design and has ambitions to be one since two years ago so she is truly enjoying this valuable process. Whilst she has her dreams up with the stars and clouds, her feet are firmly rooted (especially when it comes to choosing the most practical/affordable/child-safe materials be it curtains or kitchen backsplash). Bless her!

Bean has weekdays ABA therapy at home from 2:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. so I have been taking him home 3 days a week from The Big School by 1 p.m. That also means I have limited shopping time between 10 a.m. to noon. He gets into the bath tub to clean up and cool down as soon as we arrive home. He works best by timer so after 20 minutes of soak, he gets his change of clothes then eat a snack (fruits, usually) before his therapist arrives. So far, he has not missed any sessions as the team from EAP is reliable. There is always someone from the rotation pool. He has grown really fond of his Senior Supervisor, Supervisor and one of his three therapists. 

There is still some task avoidance and communication challenges but overall, we have experienced marked improvements in his quality of verbal output, eye contact, co-operation and attendance (lessons at reading class, The Big School and therapy). It is nice to be able to eat meals without the device on. His meal norm is now actually engaging with members of the family (especially Sunday lunches with The Grandparents) and friends (during meals at The Big School). Reviews are fortnightly so we are constantly on the feedback-action plan-execute cycles. Alhamdulillah for this early intervention.

His EAP Team has visited and met with his teacher at The New School. There will be another visit in April before the start of Term 3 for his Personal Learning Assistants/Shadow Aides to familiarise themselves with time-table, locations of lessons and activities etc. Social stories will be prepared so as to set his expectations/predictability and reduce stress for everyone.

Girl is also turning 9. I pray she gets the best in this life and the next. There are some symptoms of hormonal changes leading to emotional outbursts occasionally so we make it a point to exhibit our love and support as well as open communication. Mother: Daughter 1:1 dates are crucial, as are her Father: Daughter 1:1 school pick-up. She is a supportive sibling so we do not ever want her to feel like she is getting any less love or attention just because Bean seems to get more by virtue of the additional attention from his therapists. It is a delicate balance so wish us luck!

Till the next update, please take good care.
Saturday, 2 February 2019

The Combo Plan

Salam my lovelies,

Alhamdulillah January 2019 was a busy and productive month.

Bean attended his Observation Class at Plan B school on 16 January 2019 (Wednesday) and for one whole hour, he was observed in a Year 1 class with a teacher, a teaching assistant and an Admissions Officer. He understood what was expected of him IQ-wise but some social cue such as raising hands to inform class teacher that he had completed his worksheet needs guidance. He gently knocked on wood (table) instead of raising his hands and verbally informing the teacher he was ready for the next activity.

The Admissions Officer informed us that he read some random English test words for his age group, did addition and subtraction as well as IQ worksheets. She was most surprised that his Math is good for his age. At recess, he obediently lined up and went for breakfast with fellow classmates. When we met up with him and the teacher, the teacher's feedback was that he is ready for Year 1 with a shadow aide to assist with social and behavioral cues. Huge sigh of relief all around! We sincerely hope that the same teacher will be his class teacher as she was just the most pleasant lady and a joy to converse with.

His reward that day was getting to play at the Early Years playground. Well deserved!

Soon after, Girl and Bean were allotted their Placement Assessments on  24 January 2019 (Thursday). Bean came out bouncing happily just after half an hour and the Registrar's feedback was that he answered as expected for his age group. Girl sat down for 1.5 hours to complete her online CAT4 by GL Assessment. The Registrar mentioned that her results were good so with some guidance from Plan B school, she will excel. InshaAllah.

The Letter of Offer was issued the following day on 25 January 2019 (Friday). The Other Half and I wasted no time in accepting it and we have since made arrangements for relocation. InshaAllah everything will fall in place.

We have informed The Big School of the children's withdrawal on 25 January 2019 (Friday) and relieved that timeline for everything has been impeccably punctual. Thank you for all your kind wishes and sincere prayers. May Allah swt bless you for your kind hearts.

The Big School is a bittersweet experience (present tense as we are still enrolled until end of Term 2) and as I saw both Girl and Bean performed on stage for CNY Assembly a couple of days ago, I felt immensely blessed and thankful for everything. The stage at Plan B school may not be as grand but looking at the big picture, we know we are going to an overall better school that fits us as a family, inshaAllah.

Being the excited mother who wants her children to be prepared, I have ordered and paid for the books they will need. I am sincerely hoping that they will both transition smoothly with all the help we are getting from Early Autism Project Malaysia.

As for now, we are going to take a few days' break ushering in the new lunar year. Gong Xi Fa Cai and safe travels. Happy holidays!
Thursday, 24 January 2019

Sleepless and the City

Salam my lovelies,

I am worried about making the wrong move. 

I am anxious about moving away from my comfort zone which has a great location and view of the KLCC. 

When I think of the greater good for the children's wellbeing for the present and next 10 to 15 years, I am more assured that this will be a choice for their quality of life, not just academic.

In a few hours, the two little ones will be taking their placement assessment at Plan B - a school that supports learning differences (thus allowing Bean shadow aide support for transition) in the morning followed by a kick-off meeting with an important element to all our plans - EAP Malaysia in the afternoon. The Grandparents will be joining us at EAP Malaysia meeting which goes to show how much they truly care for Bean. Alhamdulillah for that. 

The solicitor for the property close to Plan B wrote to us asking for a decision by a certain date. InshaAllah once Plan B decides to have us (or not), we can trigger the necessary steps.

The Big School has yet to reply us about waiver of notice period for Girl. They had offered Bean a refund of Deposit without notice period of one full term. We need to sort this out so that they can both be at the same school at the same commencement date without us losing our Deposit for Girl. It is not something we want to give up without following-up either. We shall see, as this is also contingent upon Plan B results.

It is all quite overwhelming but I feel so much better as I am writing this. May my juice be fresh and my black coffee strong enough to carry me through the day without jitters.

One day at a time.

May letting go and complete trust in His Will be easy upon us. Amin.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Plan C and Beyond

Salam my lovelies,

Remember how The Grandparents shot down the school we listed as Plan C? I followed up with Nexus International School (nicknamed Plan C in my earlier posts) and turns out that they do not have a spot for Bean for his year group either. The framework is basically one child with special education needs in each class. We are not so sure if a school visit is still warranted, although they were ever so willing to enroll Girl.

A tiny piece of good news is that we may move on to Plan D and that is to consider an intensive Applied Behaviour Analysis program at Early Autism Project Malaysia (EAP) then let Bean rejoin his current school once his ABA program is done (since a shadow aide is not allowed into The Big School). 

We have an initial screening coming up to tailor his 1-to-1 ABA this week. The time frame he commences at EAP is also to be discussed so we can inform and discuss with The Big School how long Bean will vacate and when we expect to return. 

Considering EAP is quite comprehensive, we have served notice to stop hippotherapy for now so we can better gauge efficacy of ABA, touted to be the gold standard in early intervention and proven many times over to have worked.

What we like about Plan D so far:
1. Girl does not have to change schools. 
2. We do not have to relocate.
3. EAP is close to The Big School so school runs can be tweaked to suit our needs.

Then again, if Plan B is offered:
1. Take Bean out of The Big School and immediately commence EAP before Plan B with shadow aide from EAP kicks in this September 2019.
2. Both kids will be in the same school come September 2019.
3. Relocate to be 400m walking distance from school.

Wish us luck!

Monday, 24 December 2018

Plan B

Salam my lovelies,

Life is about how we handle Plan B (or C or D and so on and so forth...)

On the day of observation class at Plan B school, Bean came down with fever and so we had to postpone his application process to January 2019 when the class becomes available again.

17 December 2018: I needed a short siesta so I set my phone to silent mode. When I woke up, I saw an email from St. Joseph's Institution (also nicknamed The Bigger School). Bla bla bla "we currently do not have the resources to meet the needs of Bean" and I felt my hot tears well up. The rest of the email courtesy and content did not matter anymore as the time frame is also not promised. It seemed final. The fact that Bean's name was misspelt indicated to me how little attention was paid to detail. Oh, well.

My hands shook so much I nearly dropped my iPhone. I then cried. I cried because that was Plan A. It hurt a little for a short while. The non-refundable RM750 for Girl's application did not even matter anymore. Fact was The Bigger School did not even charge for Bean's "application". I missed the red flag?

Cathartic effect soon followed. Alhamdulillah because all the hurdles we did not foresee that were associated with Plan A just melted away. Like Allah swt had just lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. I was so glad I no longer had to wait till January 2019 just to receive this piece of news. I forwarded the email on to The Other Half and The Grandparents, then gently broke the news to Girl and Bean.

Girl was jubilant! Bean was indifferent, understandably so. They both continued playing as they were before.

As of today, I am thankful Girl no longer has to be in contact with a couple of her former classmates who had already left The Big School for The Bigger School. They used to belittle and boycott her when she refused to play along their silly games and for choosing to sit with "the girl no one was allowed to sit with" at recess. Alhamdulillah for her kind heart, really.

I am thankful Bean will have something better in store for him. Allah swt is the Best Planner. We do not know yet which is the best plan but He will reveal in time, inshaAllah. We can only move on to Plan B or other plans and pray for the best.

The booking at a serviced residence from Plan A firstly had to be cancelled. It was straight forward 20% forfeiture and 2% credit card charges of the booking sum of RM5000. Total loss: RM1100.

Before parting, the sales executive fed us a piece of gold nugget news. There may be one courtyard villa under developer's unit that may be available for sale at exact location of Plan B. Yes, it is a common developer. Clever master development plan they have.

When we arrived at the property gallery, we found out that the developer had 2 units left at that point of time as another unit's loan processing was unsuccessful. A quick buggy ride and viewing later, we were slightly more convinced that perhaps Plan B was not going to be as bad as we had imagined.

The courtyard villa is a short walking distance to the school gate. The built-up living space is big enough for us four. There is a central park with man-made lake and the kids love the playground. The courtyard villa comes with a rooftop garden and 5 car park lots (not that we have that many cars but extra space is always useful!). A booking was placed the following day after we slept over it (or rather could not sleep from the excitement of the prospects) and by convention, the choice was vetted by The Grandparents who were excited enough to tag along to review both Plan B School and House.

Plan B was such a gem for obliging a school tour on short notice. It was as detailed as it could possibly be given that the only staff around were from reception and admission offices. Girl and I had been once before during an open day so it was more for Bean and the rest. Bean cried towards the end because he really wanted to play at the Early Years playground but it was raining and the gate was shut. He finally settled down when we promised a cold treat and indoor play gym at a mall close by.

Now, we just have to wait for January 2019 to roll in with an observation class date for Bean. Admission Officer is confident Girl will be just fine and she will be processed as a tag along sibling with CAT4 by GL Assessment to his application inshaAllah. No application fees have been paid so far and we were given two sets of forms to fill. I feel a bit like a mother goose sitting on her unhatched eggs, to be honest.

Sincerely praying everything will fall into place come January 2019.