Sunday, September 02, 2018

We are letting them go

I'm someone who throws unused stuffs easily. Except books, photos, some sentimental gifts, I can let go of anything. I enjoy cluster free environment. Beside, since I'm the one doing the housework, less things to handle mean less hassle.

My youngest is 4 so its time to let go of baby equipment. We have two cars it means 4 car seats for the kids. Plus it has infant car seat, baby cradle car seat, toddler car seat, ... it never ends until the kids turn 10. Car seats aren't cheap, so far we only invested in two. Someone lent us an infant car seat (for baby up to 6 month old), never used a baby cradle car seat, borrowed one toddler car seat + one given by someone. Currently, they are both on booster seat (one bought entirely new, two second handed and one given by someone). Now, its time go get rid of the first infant-toddler seat we bought (see photo). I was looking at how to install it in the car on YouTube, and it reminded me that baby from 0-6 months have to sit against the traffic flow. How we were eager that the baby grew faster so that we can finally switch the seat facing the direction just like the adult. It was also troublesome during winter, as with all the thick clothes it was difficult to fasten the seat-bell. It is so much better now, and I'm just waiting for the little one to be able to fasten and unfasten the seat-bell herself.

We bought the stroller when the eldest was almost 3 month old. Hubby carried her around with a baby carrier wrap. Both kids were not much in the stroller, they tend to walk like the adult. It has been over a year that the little one didn't ask for it. So, time to get rid of it.

Balance bikes has become quite popular in France. We got one from the leboncoin (French craigslist) for 20€. A new one could cost as much as 120€. The little one got a bike with stabilizers plus a real bike for her birthday. Well, hubby went with her to pick up the bike, but she saw the one with stabilizers, tried it and fell in love with it. She was crying so hard when she got home with the bike hubby planned to buy, that eventually we agreed to buy her the one with stabilizers as it was more adapted to her age.

 A friend gave this to me, the little one has not paid much attention to it anymore, so time to let it go.

Lastly, hubby has invested in a scale that would send the result directly to his cellphone, so the traditional one should live a second life with a new owner.

Selling things on leboncoin is one way to get rid of stuffs, but I'm not sure if it is efficient though as the website is overflow with announcements. I saw people selling clothes for 2€ and they just uploaded tons of photos to the website. I participated in a garage sale, managed to sell some kids clothes. I also donated quite some clothes to the school (who get paid from the organisation who collects clothes). Anyway the five items above are on sale and I hope they get a new owner soon.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Summer holidays childcare options

8 weeks of summer holidays could be a headache for parents who work. In my case, we use a combination of solutions:

1. Taking time off and heading for vacation somewhere with the kids

A week vacationing in the Alps mountains. Hiking, swimming, sightseeing. We got a rental apartment with my CE with subsidized rate. Hubby was pushing us almost everyday to go hiking somewhere. The little ones walked better than me. Aelig was sicked almost the whole week, she got red eye and running nose. She had to wrap her nose every two seconds and that irritated the skin under her nose, which made her very uncomfortable. Even so, she continued walking with us. Awena enjoyed so much indoor swimming she urged us to bring her there everyday.

Another week in Provence. I had always wanted to go to Provence to see the famous lavender fields. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the lavenders were already cut off where we stayed. It was Awena's round to get sick, she had sunburn and refused to go to the swimming pool as it was outdoor. Aelig on the other hand enjoyed the children club. She chose to stay with the club instead of heading out visiting the villages around with us. The rental was with hubby's CE, including three meals per day. Hassle free holidays indeed.

2. Working from home

My company allows working from home so I took advantage of it. The kids stayed with me for a week. The other week Aelig went for the summer camp and Awena stayed with me. When both were with me, I organized play date so that they got to have fun with their friends. They knew they shouldn't disturb me when I work. When Awena was with me without her sister, she played quietly beside and knew to not make noise when I was over the phone with someone.

3. Sending the kids to grandparents

We are lucky to have grandparents who are willing to take care of the kids. I entrusted them 100%. They eat and play well there. Went to the beaches 8 times. My MIL even had Aelig doing summer school exercises. They also got to visit some relatives, a real bonding time with the big family. Not forgetting, it also means parenting holidays for us! No kids for several weeks, it was heaven for me.

4. Going to work with the kid

When Aelig was in the summer camp, Awena went to work with hubby for a day. She was curious to see her dad's office. She went to have lunch with hubby and a coworker, and managed to take a nap in the office.

5. Summer camp

Aelig has participated in summer camps since 4 years old. She really enjoyed it, so we sent her to a different camp every year. They sleep in a tent, and was trained to participate in cooking. The Town Hall organizes an information session around March, and parents have to fight for a spot for those popular camps. One Saturday morning after the information session, hubby would be on his computer at 9am sharp, and fill the online form as quick as he could to secure a spot. Luckily, we always got what she wanted.

These were options we chose to make sure the kids have a fulfilling summer holidays. In the past, when we still had a babysitter, we paid her to take care of the kids. We also sent Aelig to leisure center. These options were quite expensive, we can't afford to do this the whole summer. Overall, its best to have family nearby who are willing to help. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Durian : king of the fruit of shit

The durian season lasted longer this year. Prices dropped due to oversupply.
This is great news for durian lovers in Malaysia.
There is a Malay saying : "Durian runtuh, sarong jatuh", which means when durian falls, the sarong falls as well (as people would pawn their sarong in order to buy durian).

I for one is a big durian fan. It is definitely the king of fruits for me. Unfortunately, the prices soared and this fruit has become too pricey or you could even consider certain species (Musang King...) as luxury fruit.
Oh I miss savoring durian at those all you can eat buffet durian store with friends and family.

In France, we can buy frozen or whole durian but they are expensive and less tasty (imported from Thailand). I was watching Fort Boyard (French Amazing Race) the other day, they were at the "eating awful thing moment", it was then I wonder if they would put durian as awful thing to eat. And bingo! The chef introduced durian to the contestants and asked them to eat durian puree. I was like, let me eat all of them! Most of the contestants puked, they had to close their noise with their fingers before eating. 

This shows how much your environments shape your tastes.

A postcard to ourselves, from one year ago

Last summer we visited Busan in Korea. At Gamcheon Culture Village, it proposed a service : to send you a postcard you wrote one year after. We found it was a great idea, so we did it.

Naturally we forgot about it. This summer, when we got back from vacation, I suddenly thought about it. There were late to mail the postcard, I told myself. One day later, hubby came home and brought the postcard to me.

Here it goes : a postcard we sent to ourselves, one year ago.

I laughed at what my husband wrote : We were walking, and mom is going to complain again, that we should have taken the bus, etc. Yeap, a huge difference between us. Among the tourists, you can see Asians riding buses, cable cars, while the Europeans walk. It was an hot summer around 33°C, we were visiting Taejongdae Park. It was hilly and everyone else was queuing for sightseeing train. And because I was with a French, I had to walk (uphill, under hot sun).

Anyway, glad to receive the postcard, a little souvenir from our last trip.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The unworthy mom

One morning, we arrived at school to discover that some students were in sportswear, a bus was waiting at the entrance. My daughter immediately realized she missed something : she forgot it was sport's day for her class! There were so many activities going on that I completely forgot as well. She cried, urging me to explain to her teacher what was going on.

Shame on me, I still walked toward the teacher. She was disturbed as my daughter didn't wear sport shoes. As for lunch, other students can share with her. I didn't know what to do, I still had a young one to send to the class, and then had to rush to work. The teacher finally said she was going to find a pair of shoes for her, I handed over the snack box that I prepared for my younger daughter, and left.

On the way to work, guilt fell all over me. How can I forgot this? I'm supposed to be the secretary who handles all their activities until their are old enough to take over the responsibility. Ideas flashed through my mind to handle the situation.

As soon as I parked at my company's parking lot, I called two moms. The first one to ask if she was accompany the class to the stadium, but she was not. I kindly asked her to bring some snack for my younger daughter (her daughter was in the same class), as I had given the snack to the elder. The second one, I was sure she would be with the class, so I asked if she could bring some food for my daughter. Luckily she had some spared one and she gladly agreed to share them with my daughter.

The whole morning I was feeling guilty. I don't know how other parents handle things, it just doesn't work well with me that the school sends out emails about activities, put a note weeks before, and expecting me to remember everything. We need to put a calendar in a visible place to jot down all the ongoing stuffs.

When I got home, I saw a pair of sport shoes on the kitchen counter top. So the teacher did find a pair for her, thanks God! She was all happy and didn't at all blame me for anything. She was surprised to know that I called her classmate mom to share food with her, as it was done naturally. And, since she had enough food, she didn't eat the snack from her sister. They went to after school class and she handed back the snack box, but the teacher told her that her sister already had one (the mom I called did send a snack for my younger daughter).

This makes me realize how important to have some network among the parents. As an introvert, I don't usually go towards them. And I have a big problem : I do not recognize easily people I had talked too! I just don't know who's who's mother or dad. This is quite a drawback to socialize with the parents!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Where is Mona Lisa?

The school organizes a stage performance for the kids every year. This year, only students from elementary classes participated, whereas the kids from kindergarten stayed with the parents.

The theme was about the portrait of Mona Lisa, La Joconde in French. Students were acting as tourists visiting The Louvre Museum. They were looking for the Portrait, all the performance were mainly through singing. What struck me was, that some students were chose to sing solo from time to time, and they sang badly sometimes. I mean, some were out of tunes. Maybe the goal was to make students participate, it didn't have to be perfect. This is unthinkable during my times as elementary student. Teachers at that time always chose students with perfect voices. There were singing competitions for every grade, and the winners got to represent the school for a higher level competitions. French school do not organize singing competition apparently.

During the performance, I suddenly felt that my kids are so lucky to be in this country. All those paintings, monuments in Paris, are from their heritage, and they could just go see them. I mean, I'm not sure Malaysia has created any great arts for the human history.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mom, we would like to go home for lunch

One day, my daughter asked me why can't I bring them home for lunch.

"Mom, all my friends go home for lunch at least once a week, why do we have to go all the times?"
"It is very unfair, I hate going to the canteen. Sometimes I have to sit alone because those boys won't 
want me to sit with them, and all my girlfriends went home."
"You are working from home anyway, why can't you pick us up for lunch just like other mothers?"

I sighed.
While we are advised to not compare our kids to others', we parents are being compared to.
I don't know how they do it, but there sure are a bunch of parents able to send and pick up their kids, without ever going to the after school classes or canteen.

Kids here have school in the morning, a long lunch break, then resume the class in the afternoon. (In Malaysia, kids go to school either in the morning or in the afternoon, not the whole day). For lunch, they could either go home, or go to the canteen. Kids who go home, get picked up around 11:35am, and go back to school at around 1:35pm. Yes! Two hours lunch break!

I do not have 2 hours lunch break + 20 minutes for the drive. So I immediately said no to her. She was so disappointed, she kept asking, once a week. I was so upset, and torn apart. 
Yes, sometimes I work from home, but I have made that extra efforts to go pick them up right after school so that they don't have to stay in the after school class waiting for us.
But, when they are at home, sometimes I can't 100% concentrate on works. They fight, they scream, they ask for things, they want to share things with me....even though I told them million times that I AM WORKING!!!  They should consider themselves lucky because they only stay late twice a week in school, but still, they want more.

I felt that I have done my best. My lunch time is for myself. I get to each whatever I want, at the time I want, even in front of the computer continuing working, it was purely my choice. I do not want to put an alert to go pick them up, cook for them, eat with them, clean the dishes, entertain their demands. I need a break from them, isn't it too much too ask??

But, I yielded, as always, guilt to disappoint my child, guilt that they don't get to eat lunch at home while many others can. We did it once, it went well, they were happy, they asked for more, and I said we shall see.

The kids just drained up my energy. I don't even have any time/energy left to blog.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Ice cream "man"

I have always wanted to find a group of moms to teach the young kids Chinese together. We started it several months ago, my goal was to expose her to some Chinese while playing and singing and laughing. 

My friend was more strict and she wanted the kids to learn the Chinese characters. She started with the word "人" (human in Chinese), and the kids tried to remember the character by putting stickers on it. I didn't know she remembers it until one day during bedtime story, she pointed at the character and told me it was "人".

Since then she was able to recognize it. One day, while eating ice cream, she pointed at the candies and told everyone that it has a human on it. I looked at it and understood that she referred to "人". It just made my day. It makes me feel that it worth sacrificing the Saturday sleeps in and sending her to classes, and she is progressing. Slowly, but still, progressing.


Steamboat, is a common name we use to refer to hot pot in Malaysia. We prepare some soup base, and add anything from meats to vegetables and share the meal together. It is very handy for gatherings as you can prepare most of the things in advance.

I like having steamboat with friends and families. It is convivial and we usually share a nice moment together. This month alone, I had 4 steamboat gatherings. One in my place with 10 kids running around, and the other three were held friends' house. Just so happy to find some friends to share this nice meal together.