Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Maman, can you carry this?

This happens a lot to me.
Me as the mama, + a baby on me + climbing up stair to fourth floor.
And Aelig would ask me to carry leaves / sticks / chestnuts...

Source : http://imgur.com/0DORWx9

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Her play corner

With Aelig growing she needs more and more space. Spaces to store her toys, books, belongings, and also spaces for her play time.

Here is her cooking corner. During autume we have chetnuts all over the ground close to where we live so she collected them. They became her cooking ingredients.

Friends gave her a box of new game. She doesn't play it by the rule, but instead created her own game. She arranged the frogs by color, led by a queen, each on a lotus leave. Then she slowlly moves the first one forward, and all other follow suit. She can plays this for a good hour.

Another moving game of her. The car or bus follow each other closely. She would move the first one forward, then repeat the same move for the second, third...until the whole troop advanced. By the way, she cut a piece of white paper into pieces (on the left at the edge of the rail) and I was not allowed to throw them. It is her cooking ingredients apparently.

I place unused papers for her here so that she could draw on them before they go into the recycling bag. At her age she needs lot of papers.

She hasn't touched this puzzle for almost two years. One day she just decided to lay them on the floor, and match the bear family with different outfit. She would present them to me for each outfit to see if I like the combination she chose that day.

She is a big girl now, she can play alone. But most of the time, she asks me and her baby sister to sit beside her and see her advances her frogs or her buses/cars. She plays with them everyday and begs me to not tidy them up. Let's just say that my tolerance towards untidy rooms has increased so much after I have kids. It is either a battle to make them tidy up or just have one eye closed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Stock up books from China

I have heard about purchasing services (代购) from China, but have never really used them. I love reading but I couldn't find cheap options buying Chinese books from France. The purchasing services I found online usually required some fees, and that topping with the hefty shipping costs have stopped me completely.

But a reading worm needs its foods. I bought some from Taiwan for my birthday. And finally, the urge to share my childhood readings with Aelig has prompted me to seek again, especially I heard many Malaysians are buying from TaoBao (淘宝), a website that hosts many sellers from China for a wide range of products. My effort didn't bear any fruit as some didn't ship overseas and some didn't accept international payment. I thought it wouldn't be possible without a Chinese banking account, but recently I found a solution. My friends recommended a purchaser, who specializes in buying books for overseas customers. I just sent him the websites (淘宝 or others), he calculated the shipping costs, we both agreed on the total (books + shipping), then I did a wire transfer to his French account. Once he received my transfer, he went to order the books, sent me a photo when the books arrived, then shipped them to me. He didn't charge any fees, but accumulated points from those websites and got some discount from the shipping company he used.


And voilà, two months after, the package has finally arrived!

And what did I order? 45 Doraemon comics! It is a shame that Doraemon is not famous in France, despite the fact that French are very familiar with Japanese mangas. Doraemon was my childhood hero, and the fact that Aelig has shown interested in comics, I thought it was time to introduce it to her. I think she will love this robotic cat who is afraid of mouse but who helps his master in many ventures that kids can only dream of.

I also ordered a set of Chinese story books. It features 366 legends related to traditional festivals, ancient believes, tales and myths. I looked online on books that are suitable to Aelig's age, and I always wonder why those famous parenting bloggers recommended classic western fairy tales or story books from USA (all translated into Chinese), instead of stories written by Chinese authors. In today's world every kid seems to read and watch Disney's cartoons, know by heart fairy tales like "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Red Hat". What is it so wonderful to teach our kid about a wolf eating a little girl? Anyway, this set of books are arranged by month. We started with January so we touched about the story of Nian (why Chinese celebrate New Year with fire crackers), the Chinese Zodiac (she was intrigued). Some stories are not for her age but she still remembered some part of it so I think she will get there eventually. And, I have to say that by reading these it helps refresh my memories on certain legends or learning something new.

I read to her the first book of Doraemon. She was curious, she placed all of them beside her bed, but she decided that those are books that she would read alone without me. Ok, I don't want to force her. Anyway, I can't help but take one to read for myself. Maybe deep down I bought these for myself!

The Chinese legend series are arranged by color on the floor in her room.

Ok, I have to reveal that this is one of the saddest moments being a parent. Aelig is myopic so she has to wear glasses when she is in school or when she is watching TV. I felt guilty as I was myopic too so she probably got it from me. I hope all these books that I bought her would not increase her myopia though.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mutual respect : 'I Want To Touch A Dog' event

Source

I was a bit surprise to see this photo circulated in Facebook.

Growing up in Malaysia, I know that my Muslim counterparts are not supposed to touch dogs. Their religion considers that dogs are unclean. If one has to be in contact with a dog, one needs to clean himself in a certain way. Therefore, seeing a Muslim Malaysian getting closed to a German Shepherd with her kid got me curious.

Reading further I found out the 'I Want To Touch A Dog' event recently organized in a park in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysians from different races and religions showed up. The goal was to help address animal cruelty and overcome prejudice and fear towards dogs.

Anyway, no matter what my Muslim counterparts decide, touching or not touching, this is their choice, and I learn to RESPECT. Just like they respect other Malaysians to own a dog at home. If one chooses to stay away from dogs due to religious aspect, one shouldn't be reprimanded.

Source

Living in France, I learn that believers from different countries have different practices even though they are from the same religion. For example, I talked to a coworker from Algeria. She was surprised to hear that my Muslim counterparts in Malaysia do not touch dogs, as she doesn't practice the same things. The same goes to Buddhism: Buddhists / Taoists in Malaysia do not eat beef in general , but Buddhists in Taiwan do. How about Christian? My Christian friends here were so surprised that some Christians in Malaysia do not drink alcohol. They told me that Jesus drank wine at his last supper (in the photo above there is some red liquid in a wine container on the table). People just have different beliefs and practices and what is important is that we learn to RESPECT their choice.

Coming from France, hubby and his friends discovered that Muslims in France and Muslims in Malaysia live a different life. They were charmed by the colourful traditional baju kurung (costumes) and the friendliness of my Muslims counterparts. One commented that the female workers in Carrefour looked so cute with their blue uniform and blue head scarf. Hubby loves to go to Hari Raya open houses.

In my opinion, Malaysians, regardless of race and religion background, could live in harmony as long as we show mutual respect. I missed those days when we got invited to Raya open house for some satay and ketupat; and Deepavali open house for some Indian breads.

By the way, Happy Deepavali to all Malaysians at home!




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wednesday = no school no work no daycare day

One month into the Wednesday = no school no work no daycare day routine, we are slowly adjusting to the new organisation. The girls wake up at the same time, but we can take things slowly instead of rushing out of the door for school/daycare/work. Hubby enjoys it as well as he can sleep a bit more on Wednesday mornings.

In France a lot of government subsidized clubs used to offer sportive activities for kids on Wednesdays. However, since this September every government schools have class on Wednesday mornings. This has pushed majority of sportive activities into Wednesday afternoons. We went to a club forum where many clubs set up a stand to explain their activities. Through a friend we found a club who organizes session of get-together where everyone is encouraged to converse in Mandarin. For a long time I had looked for a Mandarin playground for Aelig and this seems to be a nice fit.

So I enrolled her for this program and we tried out the first session. The group was small with kids from mix couples (Chinese/French) and a French kid. Some kids prefer to speak in French, but the organizer spoke in Mandarin. I brought a long some Mandarin books and I was proud that Aelig volunteered to tell a story in Mandarin. Even though she was not that fluent, she had the courage to finish the story, with my help. Then, I was surprised that she was not shy but blended in instantly when the organizer was telling a story.

We decided to go back and enroll for more sessions. The organizer proposed to teach Aelig Chinese writing along with her own kids. She learnt to read and write several words a week. Most importantly she started to show some interest in writing, she even did some practice at home.

Through internet I also got connected to a group of Chinese mothers in my city. We informally started a playground, not regularly but occasionally we gather in a place to let the kids play together. I would like them to speak in Mandarin but some kids prefer to speak in French. I observed that some kids choose to speak French even though their mothers speak Mandarin to them. 

Another picnic + playtime for Aelig and her new friends. Hopefully the group would grow so that we could organize the outings more regularly.

Well, we had exceptionally sunny weather in September, it is going to be a challenge to bring them out as the raining days seem to be back in October.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

French tolerance: The traveling people V - They are still here!

I got back from my maternity leaves and was surprised to discover that the traveling people invading our office's parking lot are still there. Well, according to my coworkers, they left for a few months then decided to come back. The property management has actually installed a gate with access code to prevent them from entering, but they know how to deal with gate, they are squatting where they want just like the gate never existed.

Maybe due to word of mouth, their communities are expanding, they also invaded another empty field around the office spaces.

Photo shows a worker installing fence around the area. I don't know if this will really prevent them from staying.

It is sure that their present costed some money to the property owners here.

Well, I don't think they are bothered, they actually hung some clothes on the fence!

Some wandered why the prefecture is not reacting. The prefecture is supposed to send out some polices and conduct an expulsion operation. Some thought that the prefecture chose not to act because it is better if they stay in office area instead of housing area. Offices are empty during weekends so there would be less complains.

Employees are not happy about it but we know there is nothing we can do. Once a coworker lodged a police report due to some minor physical dispute with the traveling people. He was parking his car and a young guy from the group arrived and parked his car at high speed. He nicely asked the person to play more attention, which provoked a fight and at one point he was grounded. With their children and animals running around we do not feel safe to park there anymore.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hat on please!

I never have the habit to put on a hat when it is sunny, a winter hat when it is cold. My parents didn't put a hat on us when we were younger, and in school we were running wild bare head during recess times.

It is very different in France. Ever since Awena was born, whenever I bring her out, I was reminded again and again to put a hat on her. People told me that babies' nook and cranium are fragile, that their skin are soft so they could get sunburn easily. Same goes to the young kids. I once saw a grandma insisted to put a hat on a 5 year old who would just take if of when the grandma walked away. Due to my own upbringing, I didn't pay much attention to bring a hat for Aelig, but you can see that I'm the weird one. Photo below shows a school outing and Aelig was the only one without hat.


I don't know how those Malaysian kids survive, playing sport under 30°C hot sun? Or we are just born differently?