Thursday, August 12, 2021

Covid vaccination : You have a choice but not everyone does


One day a friend from Malaysia sent me the photo above, showing on her TV screen, 110000 French were on the street protesting against the indirect mandatory covid vaccination. I don't watch TV anymore, so most of the time hubby would update me some news. Apparently starting from the 21th of July, anyone who wants to go to a place that hosts more than 50 people, would need to show a health pass. It could be a pass proving that one has got the the two shots of vaccination minimum one week ago, a recent negative Covid test (under 48 hours) or a recent recovery from Covid. It would be extended to entrance to restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums, trains...in August. So for someone who is against taking the vaccinations, he or she would have to take the Covid test every two three days in order to access these places. Currently the Covid test is still free, but the government would ask the French to pay from their own pockets soon. Some French don't like to be forced to do something, thus they go on the street and protest.

Before continuing on the Covid vaccination, I thought about the parking policy in my company. When I was working in R town, we had a ground floor and outdoor parking spots. Ground floor spots were reserved for managerial employees, the majority of the employees had to park outdoor which was not enough to host everyone, so some had to park in a public parking. I thought this was reasonable, until I got transfered to N town. When we moved to a new building, there was also a ground floor and outdoor parkings. This time, the management had decided to grant everyone the equal access right. Everyone has the access card to ground floor, base on first come first serve basic. I was shocked at the decision but now I think it is quite normal.

I just want to tell those protesting on the street, that you should consider yourself lucky because you get to choose to take the vaccinations or not. In certain countries, people are living in anguish, fear and uncertainly because they don't know when it will be their turn to get the shots.

In France, we have to wait for our turn to get the vaccinations according to our age range. The priorities were given to the elderies and the first line medical workers. At the beginning, it was very hard to get an appointment. Hubby's grandma was so frustruted as she didn't know how to reserve a timeslot online. My mother in laws helped her but the spots got taken so quickly they had to keep trying. After a while the process was becoming fluid, and I patiently waited for my turn. On the 31th of May, the vaccinations were opened to everyone above 18 years old and under 50 years old. The websites got congested and I couldn't get a spot. At that time, I realized that most of my friends had already gotten their spots because before the 31th of May, when there were spots left, those under 50s could go and grab them. Anyway, several days after, many spots were added and I managed to get timeslots for both me and hubby at the vaccination center closest to our place. A few days later, I went to change my appointments to Sundays, as it suited better my needs. Imagine French working on Sundays...The government is really trying to speed up the vaccination rates.

When I thought most of the countries in the world are having the same online appointment booking process, I was suprised to learn that it was not the case. Every country is trying to buy the doses but the supply is limited. The developped countries are vaccinating their people at full speed whereas some other countries are struggling to have sufficient supplies for the whole nations. This results in unfair distribution of vaccinations.

My family lives in Malaysia so I get to have some updates regarding Covid vaccinations. They need to register in a website and wait for hospital staff to contact them. The priorities were given to the elderies so my mother was the first to get the doses. Surprisingly, my aunt who got medical history was contacted several months after my mom to a vaccination center very far from her house. Surge in Covid cases put the country in and out of confinements and I feel that people started to get panic. People started to use their own influences and contacts to get the appointments. The process is opaque so it is hard to know what criterias were used for the appointment distributions. Beside waiting for a call from the hospitals, people got the appointments through their doctors, their companies, their professional associations, and even, through paying RM200. I saw my friends posting on FB asking when will be their turn?


In terms of type of vaccines, I remember when I booked the appointment, you have a choice but it seems that one vaccination center would use only one type of vaccine. So when I booked, I chose the center instead of type of vaccine. The chart above shows the effectiveness of each type of vaccine. To my surprise, beside Pfiser and AZ, Malaysia is using Sinovac which has 50% effectiveness and a lot of Malaysians have accepted it. It makes me think, the Malaysians are accepting it because they have no choice or because they believe in the Chinese vaccine? I realised that we are getting very different information regarding Covid related topics. In Europe, the Chinese vaccines may not be accepted by the people, but they got vastly accepted in Asian, Africa and South America. The mainly China has used only their Chinese produced vaccines. Are the medias separating the world or the world is divided by the Chinese supporters vs Western supporters?







Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Magical Moments

One morning, while I was sleeping, hubby sneaked into the dressing and got something out of it.  I opened my eyes, he waved something to me and said : "I almost forgot!". Half sleeping, I didn't know what he was referring to. He went to wake up the little one and then I heard she screamed out loud. "I got a gift! The mouse gives me a gift!". I finally understood what was going on. She lost a tooth the night before, and hubby has bought some gifts waiting for the moment to come. Here it was, she put the tooth under the pillow and hubby went in to replace the tooth with a gift. What a magical moment for her!

The other day, she got two loosening upper front teeth, and she was very anxious. Her sister claimed that she can communicate with the mouse so she has got some questions from the little one.

"Big sister, if I lose two teeth at the same times, do you think the mouse will send me two presents?"

"No, you will only get one, as it will be too heavy for the mouse to carry two presents at once. If I were you, I would just put one tooth under my pillow, and put another one the night after, so that you get one present each time."

"Ok. Can you use your brain to tell the mouse that I would like to have a Harry Porter wand?"

"Yes, sure."

And there you go, one tooth fell. She put it in a container and put it under her pillow. As usual, hubby took the container and replaced it with a present.

Around one week after, during one evening, her other tooth was half falling. She tried to pull it out as it was hurting her. I helped but in vain. She reiterated that she wanted to take it out not because she wanted a gift, but because she was tired of having a tooth half hunging. Finally, her sister helped by twisting it. 

And voilà her without her two front teeth!

The little one with the gift from the mouse (her daddy actually)

I was chatting with the elder one, and we were discussing about the moment Santa Clause was dropping the present on Christmas Eve. I wonder when should we tell the truth, that Santa doesn't exist. She told me it was really a magical moments for them, and I shouldn't spoiled it. We had a neighbor dressed up as Santa for Christmas 2020. While the little one was really excited about all the presents, she suspected something as she can see that the beard on Santa was a fake one. Recently, her classmates told her that Santa was actually her parents, but her sister reassured her. I agreed that Santa, the mouse, the Easter rabbit are all helping to create magical moments for the kids. I hoped she could accept it well when she discovers the truth.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Roller skate and and second lockdown

We started to give the girls pocket money. 

Not much, 5€ a month. 

We can see they treat the money differently.

One wanted to save it until a certain amount, then buy a toy that cost more.

The other wanted to buy something immediately, she doesn't have the patient to wait and save.

Sometimes, one persuaded the other to save together, and buy something together.

Sometimes, they fought as they disagreed on how to spend the money.

I told them they could increase their income by selling stuffs they no longer need or use.

We did two garage sales with a club not far from our houses, and they shared the income.

We also try to sell stuffs through the boncoin (the French's equivalent of craigslist).

Most of the time, they identify things they want to sell, and I help to put them online and deal with the buyers. 

At the beginning of September, when all sportive and club activities were going to start, I quickly put the pair of roller skates to sell. We rented them brand new from the club, and bought them the second year around 100€. After three years of usage, and trips on the road outside our houses, they looked worn out. We decided to put them on sale for 40€. We only got two requests. Finally managed to sell them after agreeing to send by postal to the buyer.



They girls got 20€ each even though the skates belong to the eldest. We were going to Center Parks, and they have paid activities, so I advised them to choose an activity and pay with their money. They told me no. 

With this money plus their monthly pocket income, they requested to go to the toy store as soon as we picked them up from the grandparents after school holidays. The eldest one wanted a makeup set, and the young one wanted a toy she has been eyeing on.

I'm sorry girls, we are back to lockdown. The shops beside grocery stores are closed. They will have to wait, or buy online. So eager for COVID to go away and back to normal life.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Covid 19 Lock Down : My house is my playground

We have been confined at home since 17th March, one day before Malaysia. Hubby handles all the groceries shopping. I only drove out once for some food during this period. As for the girls, they stay confined at home. Sometimes we have a walk around the neighborhood but we make sure we keep some distance from others. We also played football at the parking lot just across our house.

Beside school, the play most of the times, together or alone. It has been 4 years we moved in to this house, it has become their playground during the lock down.

The wall is her game center. The little one designed her games and asked us to participate.

They got a lot of Play-Mobile as gifts. All are mixed up because they picked up what they like and just damped everything they don't like into boxes. Kitchen area is being transformed to play area.

The big sister has taken over the living room area with her barbies and the accessories. Her uncle got them from a coworker and gave all to her.

PlayMobile workshop with her little sister (another kitchen area being taken over).

They were playing with water in the room so we chased them out. They like to serve drinks to each other, and damp some animal toys into their swimming pool.

At the beginning of the confinement, the little one's teacher mentioned that she should continue playing with puzzle. She saw this magnetic world-map in her new school's open house, and felt in love with it. We managed to find it online, and ordered. She asked everyday when her puzzle would arrive. Well, it came only 5 days after. She can point out France and Malaysia easily now. The new game is for me to name the countries, she would take it out one by one. If she couldn't find the country, I would give her some hints, like the location or the color. To end the game, I need to say the country name the second time in order for her to put each country back to its place.

She invented a game involving the world-map puzzle and asked all of us to play.


She really likes world-map, she asked to buy a book explaining all the continents in the world. We told her she has to use her own money and she agreed. With the attached map and postcards in the book, she designed a game. Each postcard was linked to a color, and she drew a map explaining the location of each color. Then I have to place the postcards on the world-map according to the color-code. For some postcards, she clearly put in the wrong place, like putting Mount Rushmore in Africa. Well, her game, her rules.

She loves drawing. She drew lots of things and put them inside envelops. She was using the real envelops with stamp already printed on. Luckily I found a stash of envelops from our old bank so she could play with it.

Sometimes they are the best buddy to each other sometimes they fight. In the photo, they presented us a poem.

Enjoying the sun while camping the garden.

Hubby bought a game which is suitable for the whole family. It's called Zombie Kidz. The whole family has to fight the zombies and lock down the four corners. Each character has its own superpower. When you succeed in locking down all corners, you put stickers on a booklet until you reach a number where you get an envelop. In the envelop, it could be a clone for one of the characters, or a new zombie. The players can decide to take on a mission or a challenge.

She could also play with simply an umbrella and a water spray.

All in all, they got lots of games to play so they are not bored at home. Their TV schedule is just like during the school times. The only drawback : they are invading lots of areas in the house! It just slowing me down when I have to do house cleaning.

Covid 19 Lock Down : My house is my school

France has been locked down from 17/03/2020 to 10/05/2020 due to Corona virus outbreak. The school was closed, and will only reopen on 14 May, under some restrictions:
1. Each class will only have maximum 15 kids
2. Half day school with no canteen and no after school care provided
3. Each student will come two mornings per week
4. Students should keep their distance. They are not allowed to play together
5. School will not provide face mask, students can bring their own

Since the school can't bring back everyone (all classes have more than 15 students), the school principal had created a survey to know how many kids would go back to school. We decided to not send the kids back due to these reasons:
1. We are both working from home, we should leave the spot to parents who need it
2. Our kids don't want to go back after hearing that they can't play with their friends
3. Our kids have never worn a facemask, we can't guarantee they would wear one at all time, there is a risk of contamination

Anyway, since 17/03, hubby has been their teacher. There was no online courses and there will never be one. Teachers send weekly workloads through the school principal by email. Hubby picks up the print out at school every Monday. He wakes them up on school days, and classes start around 8:30am, the same time as if they were at school.

The little one has no homework. She mostly just do colouring, writing ABCD, matching photos. Then playing all day. The big sister has a lot of work. She cried a lot because she didn't understand or did some mistake. Hubby has been patient, but he yelled at her sometimes.

It has been hard on hubby. He handles all the teaching and cooking, and only manages to work half day. My work has been busy since we are starting a new project. I thank him wholeheartly to contribute lots of his time to the family.

My only intervention is to ask them tidying up! I have bad mood when the house is messy.

My only regrets:
1. School year-end performance is cancelled. It was scheduled to be on the 2th of June, the big one has been practising a secret dance with her friends.
2. This is the last year in this school for both of them. I wish they have more time to say proper goodbye, but it seems that they won't go back to the school anymore. The summer holiday is just around the corner and it doesn't seem that the viruses would go away soon.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Her style

Awena has been in a phase where she dislike everything girly : skirts, pink color, princess... She wants nothing related to them. She was quite choosy when shopping for her clothes and shoes, condemning everything in the girl's department, until she saw the choices in boy's department. 

One day, after a movie, we went for shopping for Aelig. Surpringly, Aelig didn't find much to buy that day, but her sister bought a total of 10 clothes. She was facisnated with boy's T-shirts and pants. The shopping queen Aelig bowed to her sister, and urged me to let her sister go home with her choices since it was rare that so many things please her.

At home, Awena quietly removed all the price tags and tidied up her wardrobe.

All the price tags that she removed.

This week, her sister was invited to a birthday party, so I decided to have a date with her. We went to watch Frozen II (second time for her since she watched with hubby the day the movie was on cinema). It was the winter sales period, she had been complaining about her shoes so we went shopping. She browsed through the whole boy's area, selected those she liked, tried 7 of them, and urged me to buy her two pairs instead of one. I surrendered since we spent 1,5 hours trying out those shoes.She went to school the second day with her new pair of shoes.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Grandmas and blablacar

"I really miss great-grandma, why doesn't she come to our place anymore?" My daughter asked.
I sighed. My husband's grandma used to come visit us once a year, and stayed for a week during summer. I have asked her many times when does she want to come to our place. She refused, as her health was deteriorating, she felt weak to move around. Beside, her sister who lives beside her just lost her husband, so she didn't want to leave her sister alone. There was also a problem of her sister's cat. When her sister was not around, she has to take care of the cat. Once they put the cat with someone else as both of them had to be away, the cat refused to eat so they had to hurry back.

We met over Easter, she was in good health, and she agreed to come to visit us during summer.

One day, I woke up with an idea. We were going to a gathering with friends just 30 minutes from her house. We could go pick her up and bring her with us home. She can join us for the school year end performance, plus my daughter was celebrating her birthday that weekend. 

With that idea in mind, I called her, she was delighted to announce :" I can come to your place now, the cat is dead. If its ok, I would like to bring my sister along, so that she can go to her daughter's place. She hasn't been out often and I'm worried about her." We can only fit 5 people in our car, so I contacted a friend who was going to the gathering, and she has one spot left in her car to bring my grandma's sister.

Then I have to arrange a return trip. They don't want to take train as it becomes too stressful to change train and bring their luggages around. I checked the bus schedule, it was going to take 11 hours as there was no direct bus to their town. The journey by car would only take 3 hours. I then thought of blablacar, a website which proposes carpooling services. Nobody was proposing the trip from my town to their town, but I found one from town R to their town, and the person was willing to send them directly back to their house.

With the logistic arranged, grandma's sister finally accepted to come along. Unfortunately, the carpooling person cancelled the trip as she made a mistake on the date. I told them to come anyway and we will find a solution for their return trip. I kept checking the blablacar anouncement and sometimes trips just came out last minute.

We went for the gathering during the weekend in a camp site. After checking out, I went to pick up the grandmas. Luckily my GPS worked. They were both ready. My grandma was in a traveling mode, but I can sense that her sister was anxious. My GPS died on me, but grandma knew the way back to the forest. We got lost somewhere due to some constructions, but we managed to find the camp site.

Then it came a challenge. Grandma's sister was not comfortable to sit in someone's car as she didn't know my friend and  her family. I had talked with grandma, I was going to ask one of the girls to go over so that both grandmas can ride in our car. The girls have known my friend's kids since very young, I figured one of them would be willing to ride with their friends. I was wrong, they both refused at that moment, even though they had both agreed during the weekend. We were all waiting on who would get into my friends' car. We sweet talked to our girls, they once again firmly refused and I can feel that they were hurt seeing me trying to send them away. I wanted to go over but my husband needed me to be his co-pilot. Grandma had been volunteering to ride with my friend, and at the end, we let her go because there was no other solution. She had travelled with my friends to Malaysia and she was a chatty box compared to her sister, so everything went well. Grandma sister was comfortable with us and at one point, my daugther was sleeping in her arm.

Everyone arrived in S town where my friends live, and grandma's sister's daughter arrived just in time to pick up her mother. They were to spend a week together, then grandma's sister would come to my place in order to take the return trip back with grandma. We then continued our journey back to our place.

We had a wonderful week with grandma. She went with hubby on Wednesday to see how he handled the day with all the activities going on. On Thursday she went with me to be a volunteer for my daughter's school sportday. On Saturday she witnessed the school year end performance, where both girls danced on stage. On Sunday we celebrated my daughter's birthday. Grandma's sister arrived in the evening and they were going back on Monday morning.

Grandma joining us for the school's sport's day

Making a cake with the girls to give to the school. The school then sells the cake to raise fund.


The school year-end performance

The school year-end performance

Hubby reading his father's day card before heading out to the treasure hunt activites he prepared for his daughter's birthday

During the week I kept checking blablacar to find a trip to send them home. I found some who proposed the trip but they refused to send them all the way back home. They only wanted to drop them somewhere on their way. Grandma said she had someone willing to come pick them up, or they could take a bus, or a taxi. Luckily, I found a trip that seemed perfect to me : pick up point 10 minutes from my house and the driver agreed to send both of them back to their house.

The day came, I was sad to see them leave. I sent them to the pick up point, the driver was late as they got stuck in the traffic jams downtown. 30 minutes later, a couple in their 50s arrived in the parking lot. They assured me that they would send my grandmas home. 

I went to work. In the afternoon I received messages from grandma, saying the couple were very nice, they chatted a lot, they had lunch in a rest area. Around three hours later, I received a message from the driver with a photo : they were having coffee in grandma's sister's house! Overall it was a great experience. Both grandmas were happy with the trip, but I admitted I was quite worried after they had gone. I won't dare to do this in Malaysia, but I feel that overall people are more trustworthy in France.




Monday, August 05, 2019

Being illegal alien for 8 days

My resident card was expired and I only got the new one 8 days after. I was not sure if I was legally staying in France, since the Prefecture didn't give me a temporarily one. I only had a letter with me stating that I could pick up my new card on which day. Luckily I didn't plan to leave the country so life just went on as usual. I only got a notice from my HR asking me to send them the new card as soon as I have it.

The whole renewal process has changed since last time. We had to take an appointment online, directly with the Prefecture (not my local Town Hall anymore). I couldn't find information regarding how many month in advance I need to start the renewal process, so I played it safe. Went to the website in December 2018, 7 months before my card expired, and got myself an appointment in March 2019. It was a smart move, as in May I went to the website to check again, the earliest appointment I could get was in October. It would be a big problem if I got an appointment after the card expired.

I was choosing which category I could apply, and I tumbled into an EU permanent resident status, where you no longer need to renew your card. It was permanent, forever. I photocopied all the documents : income taxes, payslips, proved of residency, a statement saying that I would follow the values practice in France...All these were useless. The officer only took the prove of my address (an electricity bill) and my photos. She told me I came in too early, since my card was still valid she didn't need to give me a temporarily one. And, she told me I can only apply the one category : marrying a French. I have to renew it every 10 years. She said she would send me a letter in April telling me when I can come to pick up my card.

I left the Prefecture with a very sad feeling. The whole atmosphere made me felt like a second class citizen, like I was begging them to let me stay. In fact they didn't do anything to me, but an officer was yelling to people in waiting room. There were lots of foreigners, begging to get an appointment because they didn't know how to do it on internet, some didn't come with the right documents, or the original documents... they were anxious, they were hopeless...

April came, I didn't get any letter from the Prefecture. I started to get worry, because how if they didn't take into account my renewal application. I have no proof that I was there. I sent the Prefecture an email, but no reply. Luckily, in early May, the letter finally arrived. I was to collect my new card 8 days after my current expired, even though I started the renewal process 4 months in advance.

Came the day to collect my card, I arrived in the Prefecture, and saw a line queuing from the building outside. Since I have an appointment, an officer let me in directly. But people in line, they mainly came to ask questions. Like, their cards expired in two months, and the earlist appointment online they could get were in 5 months. And they needed to leave the country. A very messed up situation if you asked me. I so didn't want to be in their shoes. I was observing people around me when waiting for my name to be called. This time the atmosphere was a lot better. The officer who was yelling last time stayed calm this time. She was very polite and  helpful. Someone didn't pay the duty fee, she said ok and allowed him to come next time. Ok, I paid 269€ for this renewal, I wonder if that person was waiting for his salary to arrive before he could afford to pay the fees. 

It was a no hassle process for me. Book an appointment online, pay the fees online, come one time for the renewal process, another time to pick up the card. The appointment times were pretty much respected. However, for people who are not family with computer and internet, who have complicated situations and need to ask questions, it could be a very stressful situations. Long queues every time at the information counter, and they are not always courteous.