Wednesday, 28 July 2021

End of AY2020/21 and Summer Break 2021

 Salam my lovelies,

Pardon for the long silence as we trudged on the final term of pandemic-online-schooling. Syukur alhamdulillah Girl and Bean both did exceptionally well in their GL Assessments. Girl graduated in our living and dining room. Bean scored an award for Most Improved Student of his class. The Awards Ceremonies were surprisingly interesting! We applied for access to be granted to The Grandparents so they joined us online to watch both ceremonies. Both of the children's homeroom teachers will be returning to England, alas. They will both be sorely missed.

Girl and Bean somewhat enjoyed their online Sports Day as the novelty had worn off. We will suggest that the programme be updated next year as repeating the same routines and challenges from AY2019/20 annually were not exciting nor engaging for the most part. Morion, their sports house, did not win this year but put up a good fight. Sportsmanship can be tough under pandemic-fatigue as we witnessed first hand.

International Week came and went without much pomp and gala as the overall spirit was dampened by high daily new cases and long-drawn lockdown. Girl's class was assigned Thailand, and Bean's year group was again assigned China (same as when they were in Year 1). Girl's Thai costume arrived after International Week Dress Up Day, and Bean donned his Lunar New Year red costume. There was not much decoration of study space, except reusing all our Lunar New Year deco items for Bean's China-theme. I must remind myself to order Bean's new costumes as he is outgrowing them soon.

We cooked some masa harina pancakes (the recipe is a keeper) and ordered Thai food during International Week. Bean missed his xiao long bao and la mien so much he kept reminiscing his meal at Din Tai Fung KLCC when we could last venture out.

Summer break is finally here and we are spending every single day indoors, same as most Klang Valley dwellers. Our 9.2 acre park is still shut but we enjoy the greeneries and fresh air. This is our first holiday-less indoor long break. We ordered a whole series of The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer and a few more titles for Girl, including a new release from David Edward Williams (David Walliams). Bean is working on his Horrible Histories series, still. His stamina for reading is nowhere near that of Girl's, not that I am comparing.

Personally, I am working on re-motivating myself. I have a lot to be grateful for and reaffirm myself of this fact daily. Although The Other Half and I have been fully-vaccinated, we are not taking our chances and are very aware of the fact that both children have yet to reach their respective vaccination threshold age. We are certainly taking all precautions and coping the best we can with what we have.

On the fluffier side of life, our balcony plants are thriving and they bring much joy. Both children are painting, colouring, crafting and playing online games. They usually transition into movement breaks without cue. Dances and balloon-volley indoors are so fun with them! We must include more of our stationary bike and rower considering we have been eating well could use some extra exercise.

We hope to spend the rest of this summer break in good health and happiness. All school fees have been paid and their books for Y7 and Y4 are arriving from the warehouse. Hopefully, Girl's new secondary uniform will be available as soon as the bookstore is allowed to open (on-site at School and it is not currently permitted under Phase 1). I am still in awe she is going to Y7 and knowing me, I may get all emotional come September.

Ending this post with much love and peace to everyone. Stay safe and healthy. May happiness and joy come your way daily. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Term 3 AY2020/21

Salam my lovelies,

Girl and Bean commenced Term 3 AY2020/21 on 12th April 2021 for in-person learning but we quickly made a family decision to keep them learning online soon afterwards when the number of new COVID-19 cases in Selangor kept rising. We have been self-isolating since. Thank goodness for work-from-home and online purchases, without which, self-isolation would have been near impossible.

Both Girl and Bean miss being out and about but have come to accept this as their way of life. They look forward to life as they knew it pre-pandemic and we often have heart-to-heart talk as to when that may be possible again. Perhaps with new adjustments.

They resumed the final second half of Term 3 after Eid/mid-term break and are now well into preps for GL Assessments. Due to MCO3.0 and FMCO, all their school events will be held online. We are looking forward to a series of webinars this week on inclusion policy, GL Assessments and oral health for families during pandemic. June and July look packed with transition classes, parent-teacher conferences, Sports Day and International Week. 

Bean will have a couple of projects for Family Day this year at Early Autism Project Malaysia, albeit on a smaller scale compared to last year. He is learning independently for most part now and we only assist with printing, the occasional hiccup of broken wifi connection and submission of assignments. His English Tutor from Inception Learning Space (fully online) has worked out well and we are grateful as he now has better self-esteem in speaking up during his lessons, especially to ask for help. Thank goodness for both EAP Malaysia and Inception Learning Space!

We do not have a proper plan for summer break yet as we are still unsure of how FMCO will pan out. We hope to add a bit more to our roof-deck space for some summer fun especially in the morning when it is at its coolest. It is definitely time to brainstorm and plan ahead if we wish to enjoy some breathtaking sunset view there. 

In parting, we would like to encourage our local/Malaysian readers to self-isolate, practice self-lockdown and bring the number of cases down as we did before. Stay safe, my lovelies!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Eid Mubarak 1442H

Salam my lovelies,

Wishing every Muslim reader here a very happy Eidulftr.

The COVID-19 positive cases, ICU cases and deaths were reported at an all time high since this week and we have had a relatively low key Eid celebrations. No house and grave visiting was permitted and so we missed visiting my PIL and visiting Abang's grave for the first time since 2009.

We ushered in the spirit of Eid with online school assembly on 11th May 2021 before mid-term break started the following day. Girl and Bean had one day rest before Eid. We let them nurse their pandemic fatigue with all day iPad pass, unlimited Netflix, park time, play time (most memorable being their self-initiated board and card games) and Movie Night with popcorn every single night right up till the second night before school resumed on Tuesday the following week. It was a proper chill time from school and the outside world. Yes, syukur alhamdulillah for their sheltered time at home during such public health crisis period.

Looking back, we had a cheerful mini photo session just the four of us, all dressed in soft seafoam green from 2019's Eid. My small blush Lady ABCDior even made its brief 5-minute appearance in a few photos, just because. We were all dressed to the nines with nowhere to go.

Our Eid lunch spread was so simple, perhaps that embodied the true spirit of moderation. I was in no mood for a big feast and you could tell Girl and Bean were perfectly content with not having to stuff their faces full with traditional "raya food". The highlight of the meal was a video call to see The Grandparents. We later exchanged photos in our family group chat.

School has since resumed for Girl and Bean, the routine is helping us keep structure during such abnormal times devoid of social interaction. Girl is starting to feel the bane of not seeing any of her classmates in person, with some video calls starting to feel awkward/not having much to share. Bean is relatively unaffected and only too happy to be playing games and catching up with YouTube games reviews. On the bright side, he now has learnt to be independent during his online classes. The only help he needs from us are wifi connectivity and printing of worksheets. We are proud of him sitting nicely, staying focused and asking questions/asking for help. Both are asking for more cuddles than usual, and we are happy to indulge them whenever they ask for one.

On a personal note, I am replacing my fast, slowly but surely. InsyaAllah, may this be easy on me. May our good deeds be accepted and may Allah swt forgive us our sins. Selamat Hari Raya and Maaf Zahir Batin.

Until next time, stay safe and stay at home if you are in Malaysia. Take good care, my lovelies.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Ramadhan Kareem

Salam my lovelies,

Ramadhan is upon us again, alhamdulillah. May Allah s.w.t. accept our fast and good deeds. Aamiin.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Happy Lunar New Year 2021

Salam my lovelies,

Happy Lunar New Year!

Girl and Bean were attending online classes with assessments followed by Assembly on Lunar New Year Eve before we converted the huge dining table now also known as "the office/Girl's classroom" into a table decked in all things celebratory and set, fit for reunion dinner at 5:30 p.m.

The MCO2.0 SOP allowed for The Grandparents to come over (2 in a car, perfect!) to save us from the hassle of travel (2 per car, family of 4, you get the drift!). We are thankful for living within 10 km of each other now, although we certainly miss the convenience of a hospital and nearby facilities within the city centre where we were. 

A joyous time was shared with prosperity salad toss, reunion feast from an ex-school mate's restaurant and tea ceremony-hong bao exchange. Girl and Bean are now used to this routine/complied 100% with happy hearts. Syukur alhamdulillah!

The was a health scare in the week leading up to the Lunar New Year though.

I found a large engorgement/swelling on my left arm/armpit area and went to consult my specialists. 2 ultrasounds at different hospitals and a week of antibiotics later, now, I am waiting for MRI with contrast at Prince Court Medical Centre (the injector battery spoilt just after I registered that morning!). Prima facie from ultrasounds, neuro tumour. Let's pray it is not malignant, as the blood test came back in my favour (meaning CA markers are negative).

Let's enjoy the week of breather now before the hustle bustle resumes.

Have a lovely NIU year ahead and wishing all an ox-picious time with loved ones.

Till next time, take care and stay blessed.

P/S: I went back for CT Scan and a surgery at Prince Court. The surgical team and nurses at Ward 5G were a huge blessing. Highly skilled, helpful and cheerful. Wonderful service with great bedside manners. Catering was excellent. Housekeeping was responsive. Best part of all: my biopsy report is negative for malignancy. Syukur alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Term 2 AY2020/21

Salam my lovelies,

2020 taught me to live one day at a time.

2021 has taught me to live one hour at a time.

School reopened on 6 January 2021 and by 7 January 2021, we had one student who was living with a parent and sibling who tested positive for COVID-19 cause a scare. I had just written to the Principal that morning and he immediately rang me back to reassure me that there was nothing to be worried about, and that the MOE orders were to be followed and that no hybrid lessons were to be offered at that point of time.

By afternoon, he had to issue a notice that School was to be shut on 8 January 2021 for deep cleaning and lessons were moved online. He rang me back to apologise and I "rewarded" him with an update that there have been 3 asymptomatic positive cases at our residences. I am quite sure I rank highly on his list of "high attention parent" who constantly gets under his skin. We are blessed in that we share synergy and mutual respect to keep the conversation going.

My family made the decision to voluntarily self-isolate when 3 asymptomatic cases were recorded at our residences. Although we do not share the common lifts, we decided not to expose Girl and Bean to the neighbourhood children from the towers who use the common lifts. 

Hybrid learning is yet to mature and the children were not offered their full time-table but we were fine with this "short-term arrangement". Class Teachers helped us pack Girl and Bean's books and we had my FIL pick them up to be conveyed home to us. Bean and Girl worked through their worksheets and survived 11 January 2021! When I mentioned "short-term arrangement", I meant one to two days' arrangement. At most 14 days. 

By 6 p.m. on 11 January 2021, the PM of Malaysia announced implementation of MCO in Selangor, where we now live. 

The idiom that necessity is the mother of invention cannot be more accurate.

Hybrid schooling will be at its final day on 12 January 2021 as by 7:45 a.m. on 13 January 2021, Girl and Bean's classes will be fully online. Luckily for us, Phoenix Classroom is a familiar and successful platform for the whole school community. 

In hindsight, it was clever of us at the PTA to plan all community activities to be carried out online.  We have a Facebook Live Cooking show, Facebook Preloved Group, YouTube Channel for resources by parents for parents, email support and Zoom Coffee Mornings. Monthly meetings with the Senior Leadership Team will also be conducted online.

Alas, the UK strain has arrived in Malaysia and we plan on staying at home as much as we can. We will be exercising on our rooftop deck, and not risk going to the park until we know more. We are grateful for every little blessing we still enjoy.

We can flatten the curve and fight COVID-19 together, inshaAllah. Stay safe and take good care.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

End of Term 1 AY2020/21 and Year End Post

Salam my lovelies,

School term break started on 19 December 2020. It was a flurry of PTA monthly meetings, PTA Community Support Forums, Parent Teacher Conference, Bean's monthly IEP- review with class teacher and SENCO, and end of therapy with EAP Malaysia. Syukur alhamdulillah for Zoom and safe conclusion of those many meetings online. 

Syukur alhamdulillah, Bean has "graduated" from formally receiving ABA therapy, the onus is now on us to implement everything we have learnt. Autism at Home provides useful resources, so please be sure to look it up.

As you may already know, CMCO has been extended until 31 December 2020 in Selangor, Malaysia. However, there is no border restrictions like before. This is a huge relief, as I been able to travel the short distance to Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur for some long overdue errands at KLCC and StarHill. I admit I especially miss my old neighbourhood dearly this year.

Remarkably, 2020 will be the first year we will not have any fireworks to usher in the new year at KLCC. We plan to watch reruns of our recorded videos of the fireworks from previous years to cheer the occasion up a little. I am sure the stroke of midnight will still be just as beautiful, inshaAllah.

I am thankful for all the blessings we have received this year despite it being a tough year. I am thankful for all the ease Allah swt had blessed us with in so many ways (be it family, friends, community or service providers). 

January 2020 saw us discussing the "Wuhan" outbreak but still carried on with Lunar New Year gathering and school assembly, not knowing what laid ahead of us. We were cautious at a recce trip to Ipoh thinking we had to research how Girl was going to cope at school camp. The intended camp never did happen as news from WHO developed into daily briefing.

February rolled in with my birthday and a few unexpected unpleasant encounters with a few people but these did not top the MCO announced on 16 March 2020 which was implemented on 18 March 2020. April, March and June were the toughest months as we learnt how to manage work, school, live and be at home 24/7. We learnt to regulate our feelings, and implemented strategies that give each other mental space. 

July and August 2020 saw the end of last academic year with typical long summer break. The number of cases were relatively lower and we left for green zones in Penang and Janda Baik. Those were some of the best days of our 2020. We learnt to cherish our local 5 star resorts much more and look forward to days when we can travel locally again.

September and October 2020 were short-lived on-site schooling days for the children. I worked all the  hours the children were away by catching up on heavier chores (like cleaning the ceiling fans and air-conditioners)  and long overdue paperwork at our home office. The CMCO kicked in and they were back to online schooling at home in October, November and December 2020. This time, I sat with Bean during lessons and took full reign of making sure he did every piece of work, attended every class and paid attention to what was being taught. Syukur alhamdulillah he co-operated and succeeded in many subjects this time. He learnt to ask questions, wait patiently for his turn to answer questions and keep calm. Girl has coped excellently throughout the year and deserves a huge praise too. 

Noticeably, this is also the first year in a long time I reward myself by replacing some worn-out SLGs and a couple of items on my wish-list. I truly deserve some pampering as I have put in a lot of effort in my role as mother, teaching assistant, therapist, volunteer etc. The pandemic has a way of filtering and resetting my priorities too. I truly appreciate this thought process 2020 has taught me. The Other Half jokes that all my unspent coffee and brunch money for 2020 as gone to my purse fund. He is right. It is astounding how much I have "wasted" on coffee and brunch since 2015 (and I repent on some bad investment choices)! 

KonMari effect of my closet can be felt daily now, it is minimal and contains only items that spark joy for me. I have always enjoyed decluttering even before Marie Kondo, so adding the element of joy is definitely a winner. Having a disciplined wish-list is also helpful. I no longer purchase purses not on my wish-list. In fact I inform family members of this list, so that they will not waste their good money on items I do not enjoy having. It may sound harsh but this works well for us.

Furlough-unfurlough. News of vaccine. Let's all remain positive and resilient. Let's enjoy the rest of 2020 as safely as possible. To all families and friends who are leaving the school, we wish you great adventures ahead and happy reunion with your families. To all who are arriving in January 2021, a warm welcome and hopes of new friendships to be forged.

Happy holidays wherever you are. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2021. May the new year bring with it better healthcare, safer world, resilient economic recovery and improved mental wellbeing for us all. Aamiin.