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**
Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Commencement of Autumn/Winter Term 2018/19

Salam my lovelies,

Girl is going to Year 4, and Bean is moving up to Reception in a couple of days. Bismillah! 

We asked Girl to label her own books but helped to wrap them. We bought the books as soon as they were available but procrastinated labelling and wrapping, oops! I guess we were too busy going to the cinema occasionally, swim at the pool daily, cooking dinners nightly and baking almost every evening before watching a Marvel Studios movie (I can now relate and communicate superhero characters better with Bean, yay!). We even squeezed in one short road trip to Genting Premium Outlet just for the cooler air when it got too hot one afternoon.

Bean will have no books as his Reception programme is Reggio Emilia inspired and hopefully suit his learn-via-play style. We pray his fine motor skills and pencil grip will improve and that he may finally learn to read. He is still blending words (bat, cat, mat, pat) so I have to learn to chill. I admit I am panicking because...I do not want him to left out from the joys of reading? We have been working on some worksheets daily but I did not push his school readiness as much as I did with Girl when she was preparing for Reception.

Sincerely, I pray for them both to enjoy the very best of their stress-free school days and learn the skills to be resilient people with good core values in future. May their hours away from home be filled with safety and goodness. May the best come their way. Aamiin.

Summer of 2018

Salam my lovelies,

The Year End Concert was fabulous. Girl was one of the fairies in Peter Pan and she wholeheartedly channeled her inner Tinkerbelle that end of July morning. One particular Makchic and fellow Belang Mum (you can guess who she is by now?) actually stood with me at the door to the hall, and we were the kiasu first and second sets of parents allowed in.

My, oh, my! The seats were the best I have ever gotten in my life as a parent because when Girl was called to receive her best of Year 3 English prize, I was so close by! Congratulations, Girl. You did well and I am so proud of Ms. Chung and you. As I was away working, this prize has zero contribution from me. In fact, I did not prepare her for any of her exams at all except pray. Alhamdulillah and bravo for her independent effort!

After the Concert, Ms. Chung rang my mobile to ask Girl to collect a private gift. It was a lovely notebook for Girl to compose more stories or keep as a diary. So generously wonderful! 

We left with The Grandparents for Singapore on the first Sunday of the holiday and spent an entire week at Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa. Our arrival at the tiny island republic started with check-in to the hotel. They could not offer us connecting rooms so one of our rooms was left vacant for a week. What a waste but...what can we do? I have noticed the reservation details a few months ago and asked my MIL to ask her agent who promised to rectify it but obviously it was not carried through.

After that initial hiccup, we had a late lunch/early dinner before leaving for an evening at the famous Singapore Night Safari. The queue for a ride took us what seemed like forever. Luckily we had some ice kacang before that to cool down from the sweltering heat.

The following night, we obliged my MIL and took the kids to Garden by the Bay. Bean suffered a meltdown and insisted on leaving by Maghrib. The Other Half and I had to carry him to the exit and while the music was playing, Bean adamantly asserted that it was too loud for him. I really did not know what was happening to his senses but I prayed so hard he would be fine. As in, in his life.

While I carried him, he cried and kicked. I scored a few bruises, neck ache, arm pain and a broken heart. The Grandparents witnessed by then how difficult the situation was going to be for me as Bean's mum in this journey of nurturing Bean and we all silently reaffirmed that my decision to leave a fulltime job is probably the best solution. For everyone's sake. No matter how much good it is for my savings account and career, I will regret it if I do not give Bean my all during this testing period.

The following day, we went to Universal Studios Singapore. As well as the day after that. Repeated rides, leisurely walk, long queues, touristy stuff which everyone enjoyed.We even found and returned one iPhone in a feeder bus during one of our rides back to the hotel.

Another notable visit one rainy afternoon was to a Marvel Studios exhibition at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Bean truly enjoyed his time there and bought Spider-Man soft toy (which he brings to sleep with every night since and lovingly calls it "Baby Brother"). In order to understand his fascination with Marvel Studios characters, I promised myself to watch all the movies he has watched. Since then, I have better grasp of characters, plots and able to converse with Bean.

I am glad we indulged in some simple pleasures. Perhaps one of the most memorable activity for us was cable car return rides from Siloso Point Station to Merlion Plaza via Imbiah Lookout Station. The kids enjoyed their free play at mosaic water fountains near Merlion Plaza, water-play rock garden at Imbiah and were so happy to experience soaked shorts and feet during our ride back to Siloso Point Station just before sunset. The organic ice-cream at Merlion Plaza, the freshly squeezed orange juice from a vending machine at Imbiah Lookout Station, the ice-creams from bus stop vending machines at Siloso Point Station. Fresh air and sunshine. 

We also visited SEA Aquarium and Maritime Museum but The Kids somehow prefer Aquaria KLCC and the Sydney Maritime Museum. Oh well, destination checklist marked and struck off.

Another highlight of this trip for Girl was a play she was not expecting. We managed to get some really good seats for The Lion King. Magnificent production. Lights. Masks. Songs. Props. Backdrop. Make-up. Costumes. Talents. The works! (We cannot wait for Matilda to arrive so we had better start saving up!)

Bean cried at Intermission and refused to watch the second half as he was really saddened from Mufasa's evil plot. After much failed persuasion, I had to walk him out of the Sands Theater and brought him to the waterlily pond at Marina Bay Sands. He saw a DC Shop at the mall, and got himself a piece of cendol Green Lantern ice-cream cake which he forced me to eat after discovering that the coconut milk was not to his liking He got bored of walking at the mall and finally agreed for me to purchase tickets for him to run at an interactive light play area next to the food court.

Girl and The Other Half came to join us there after The Lion King. They were awed and obviously enjoyed the entire production. That night, we returned to the hotel for our TV/Room Service dinner before packing as we were leaving the following day. I was surprised I did not even make a trip to Orchard Road, or make any purchases for myself.

To be honest, our TV/Room Service/Bath/Story-time nightly routine was what held things together for Bean and us. Warm, secure, familiar family love works best.

Swift, short, sweet Singapore. InshaAllah we will be back.