Saturday, August 09, 2014

Hairdressing at home

Isn't it nice to have your hair done at the comfort of your own house? I heard about freelance hairdressing several years ago but have never tried it myself. Ok, I'm not talking about those under the table services but rather a legal professional hairdressing services.

We were having vacation in my in laws' house, and my MIL had an appointment with her hairdresser, at her own home. She suggested to trim Aelig's hairs. Her appointment would last for 2.5 hours and it would have 20 minutes break in between her treatment. I figured I could also use a haircut.

The hairdresser arrived on time. She started with mixing some colors for hair dying. Oh my I didn't know dying hair would take so much time. Anyway she managed to trim my hair and Aelig's during the break.

Charges : 58€ for hair dying, 11€ for trimming Aelig's hair. Free for me (she explained that she was using the break time so she didn't want to charge me).

Love the service and the reasonable fee.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Free calls to Malaysian land-lines and cellphones from France

Finally, my turn!

I know, our internet provider Free Telecom has offered free calls to cellphones in USA and China since long time ago, but Malaysia was not in the list.

Now Malaysia is included! Yes, I can call both land-lines (can do so since long time ago) and cellphones (beginning probably since July 4, 2014) for FREE!

Countries that are enjoying this free service include USA, Canada, Hawaii, China, Macao, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia and many more.

For the complete list please refer to:

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Bad eating habits?

Even since Aelig was a baby, she follows the French eating habits : a meal every 4 hours. Basically, she has her breakfast around 8am, lunch around 12pm, snack around 4pm then dinner around 8pm. This is very different from my own habits as I can eat anytime anywhere. French parents in general discourage nibbling between meals. This is stated in Pamela Druckerman's Bébé Day by Day : 100 keys to French parenting. Pamela is an American journalist who currently lives in Paris, raising three kids. She observed and wrote some parenting books about how French raise their kids. Her books were translated into other languages including Mandarin, and they have been a bit in the parenting world.

Anyway, seeing that I eat all the times, she quickly asks to do the same. When she comes back from school, around 6:30pm, she would tell me that she is hungry. I consider that fruits are no harm and could be consumed at anytime, so I prepared a fruit basket so she can help herself whenever she wants.

One day she asked her dad's permission for a banana before dinner but it was refused. She then came to see me and I overruled her dad. This caused some tension between me and hubby. During dinner she didn't eat much and hubby blamed this on the banana she ate earlier. True, if she hasn't eaten that banana, she might have taken more food. But, I considered fruit as part of the meal and provided the same good nutrition.

On another occasion, Aelig was hungry and asked to eat between meal again. This time hubby gave her some bread. He told me that bread is allowed and it is the way it is. True, he eats bread at anytime. Now, the question is why nibbling on bread is ok while savoring fruit is not ok?

We have not come to any conclusion about this. I agreed that I need to stop Aelig from eating all those biscuits I bought (I miss salty biscuits as breakfast as French breakfast are usually sweet). I still think eating fruit between meal is ok but if she eats fruit and bread between meal then it would be too much.

There are many conflicting studies about eating. Some say eating frequently with smaller portion is better for the body, some say we should not eat between meals. Some indicate we should eat fruits at the beginning of a meal instead of having it as dessert. Asian don't have habit to eat bread during meal but French do it all the times. At the end, it really depends on each individual.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Caught and fined

I have heard various people hinting that they never pay while using the public transport in my city. Passengers are supposed to flash their transport card or punch their ticket once they step into the bus or tramway, or these days you can flash your cellphone where the tickets stored. However, some try their luck, they just climb up without paying.

One day hubby needed my car so I headed to an appointment with both girls in public transport. The tickets can last for one hour, on the way back, by the time we descended the tramway, the time was up, but I still had to take a bus which lasted only 5 minutes. Should I punch another ticket for myself and Aelig? I decided not to since it was just a short distance.

We just settled down in the bus, and we saw the man sitting in front of us getting off, but without success, as the door was shut. He looked very uneasy and sat back where he was. Aelig asked me why this man came back, I was at the point telling her a possible explanation, while three bus officers stood in front of us and asked me for my tickets. We didn't see them climbing up the bus because we sat opposite the driving direction.

No, they didn't fine me for the 5 minutes over the valid usage time, how nice of them. But, the man in front of us got caught. He said frankly that he didn't have any ticket on him. That costed him 46€. He didn't look sorry, but more feeling unlucky that he got caught.

I thought I would feel that he deserved it, but I was actually sympathy with him. His face expression made me felt sorry for what had happened, as if he just paid all he got on the fine. Poor him.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

They don't drink water

My family in Malaysia emphasis a lot in drinking water. Since the weather is hot and humid there, we need to make sure we drink enough to keep ourselves hydrated. By drinking water I mean pure lukewarm water, not soda or fruit juices. Kids bring their own bottle to school. Some adults have a bottle in the car. The water has to be boiled or filtered before drinking though.

Things are very different in France. I know of some people who do not drink pure water. They drink coffees, tea, soft drinks, juices or wines. And they insist that these are sufficient. Some also think that lukewarm water is not healthy for the body, so they drink cold water.

I didn't know that we could get by water. In my city we could drink water directly from the tap, so it is easy and convenient. In cities where it is not advisable to drink directly from the tap, people buy mineral water, they are quite cheap in general.

Here is a bottle of water provided by the maternity ward, targeting at new mother. I got one everyday (1.5L).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

She will be retired at 42 in France, and us?

One day a friend told me that one of her acquaintances will be retired next year, when she turns 42 years old. I was like, how is it possible? She is only several years older than me, but she will be retiring next year, whereas for me in 30 years?

Well, retirement is a sensitive topic in France, so my friend is not going to ask this person how does she manage to get off so early, but instead we analyse the situation and come out with three facts that would entitle her to early retirement:

1. Working in one of the x-government control companies (eg SNCF, France Telecom, EDF, La Poste...). These companies used to own by the government and since then have been privatized, but the government still own important shares and controls in them. They have one common point : good benefits for their employees such as earlier retirement than other public and private companies.

2. She has three kids. During my MIL's time, each kid entitles the women to get off 2 years earlier for retirement. So having three kids entitles her to get off 6 years earlier, and the fact that she works with x-government own company may amplifier this entitlement.

3. She used to work in the nuclear industry. Since it is considered as high risk industry, each trimester she worked may account for more, for example 1 trimester = 1 year.

We don't know if our analysis are close to the reality, but just to point out that retirement is not always a fair game in France. It really depends on which company, which industry and which benefit package you are enjoying. I once read a Brit's blog, he started working in France in his 40s, so he said by the time he retires, he would be working for 20++ years in France, and the fact that he needs to work 40++ years to get full retirement, he will eventually get nothing. Yes, the more working trimesters you owe, the more percentage your pension gets deducted.

The national motto of France is Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Sometimes I wonder which equality are we talking about. Equality for the poor? The rich? Or just for certain group of people?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Crow's beak 乌鸦嘴

I'm usually not superstitious but there is one thing I do believe is the existence of crow's beak in Chinese culture, equivalent to jinx in English.

Crow's beak, or  乌鸦嘴 in Mandarin refers to someone who says something bad and that bad thing would happen, or in my case, someone who says nice thing about something, but thing turns out bad.

I remember my mother told me a scene when my sister was born. She was a crying baby, she cried so much that everyone was so tired of her cries. One day, unexpectedly, she was quiet and just played peacefully in her sarong cradle. Someone came and commented : "Look at her, she doesn't cry today, she is such a nice girl!" And that ended the peaceful moment. She was even crankier than before.

I have told hubby many times about this superstitious. Of course he doesn't believe it. He continues to make comment about how nice Aelig behaves or how nice things turn out. I usually keep my mouth shut. Sometimes things turned out bad but sometimes not.

The first few days when Awena was in the maternity ward, he made those kind of comments again.
"Look, she sleeps the whole day! She is a lot easier than Aelig!"
"See, she is sleeping again!"
"Ah, we hardly hear her!" Then he proceeded to pick up the baby as when he was there she was sleeping most of the time.

I sealed my lips and didn't want to response. It sounded stupid, but if you had baby like Aelig, you would wish to not repeat the same sleeping drama for your second kid.

So how does Awena turn out?
Starting from the second or third night she was a crying baby.
The first night she was home, she slept in our room. Husband's reply the second morning after my question of how was your night : hell.
Yes, she has set up her own rule : no nipple = no sleeping at night. The second day she was home I thought about giving up breastfeeding.
Sometimes I just let her cry after making sure that she is fed, her diaper is clean, she burped. She could cry from her hung for a good 30 minutes.

So, don't blame me if I don't praise your kids or just shut up when you ask me how my kids behave. I would prefer to look stupid than extending the sleeping deprived phase.