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


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.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Chicken Cheat

One day I saw some chickens on promotion in a supermarket. A whole chicken is usually sold at around 10€ (depending on the weight), so at 4.65€, it was considered a bargain. I sensed that there was a trap, so I checked the price closely, and I realized these were chicken expiring in two three days, so it made sense to have lower price to me.

I went to check out , and saw that they charged me 9.24€ instead of 4.65€. I immediately went to the reception area to inform them that there must be a mistake. I didn't have the promotion photo with me then, so they called the person responsible for meat products. They later told me that only chicken expiring in one day would have promotion. I couldn't accept this explanation, but I didn't have the courage to return the chicken. I had to leave to pick the girls, so I left feeling cheated.

Later on I informed a friend, she told me that I was such a newbie in grocery shopping. She said that shops always have these kind of promotions to catch your eyes, but if you read carefully, the price must be per/kilo and not per chicken.

I was so pissed at myself that I decided to go back to the store. It just happened that the swimming class was canceled so I brought the girls to MerryGoAround then went back to check out the promotion tag. Indeed, the tag has a small word saying that the price applied to chicken around 1.4kg.

But the chicken I bought was only around 1.2 kg so it should be cheaper than 4,65€! Later I checked the promotion photo, all of the chicken I can see the price tag indicated 4.65€/Kg instead of 4.65€ for around 1.4 kg. It was clearly a trap for the consumers. During the night I was going to report this to a consumer association, but couldn't find any that I could just send an email or call. I decided to rest the case, but I did learn a lesson. Next time, return the item if the price doesn't meet my interpretation! Stores are really full of traps these days.

When in Rome, the Romans are doing things differently?

When I have to make a decision on something that involves my children, I usually try to follow the principal : when in Rome, do as the Romans do. My children live here and thus have to practice the French culture.

But sometimes, even French are doing things differently.

Over the years, I have had disagreements with hubby regarding Christmas, more specifically the lying part of the Santa Claus. I do not like to lie to my kids. I don't think it was necessary to buy gifts for them just for the sake of buying. Hubby told me that this was part of the culture. After talking to people around, I reluctantly go with the flow, seeing how happy my kids were when they see Santa Claus or when they received many gifts.

Regarding Santa Claus, when Aelig was two years old, my FIL dressed as Santa, rang the bell, entered the house with a bunch of presents. She kind of recognized him, so the following years, we asked someone else to do the job. Last Christmas, since the celebration was held in our house, I asked around my neighborhood. I was hoping to find a neighbor to be Santa for our kids, and in return hubby would do the same for the neighbor's kids. It sounded perfect until I contacted my neighbors.

"Oh, our kids don't believe in Santa Claus!" We could do it for your kids, but that's not necessary for our kids. I was stunt. Their kids were 6 and 4. Most French kids at this age still believe in Santa. Later I found out that the neighbor's father was so disappointed to discover that there was no Santa, that he decided to stop the Santa fantasy for his kids. So my neighbor was not grown up expecting Santa like most of the kids.

"Oh, our kids don't believe in Santa anymore!" Claimed the other neighbor. Their kids were 6, 4, and 2 years old. I was overwhelmed. Are we the only family still let our kids dream about Santa? 

I asked another family, they were going to be away, so not possible to be our Santa. I had no choice but to ask the neighbor who had not believed in Santa all his life, to be Santa for our kids on Christmas Eve.

And why on Christmas Eve? Awena came home one day saying that in school, her teacher told the class that they would go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and the next morning,  they will discover the presents delivered by Santa the night before. This was never the case in our family.

All these details don't matter anymore. I did it for the sake of my three year old. The eight year old told her little sister one day that Santa doesn't exist. I bite my tongue and say nothing. Her little sister insisting that Santa exists, that she got this and that from him last year. 

Anyway, it comes down to me that it was more of a family culture on the way things are done. Every family defines or shapes their own traditions. Breaking family traditions need a lot of courage though.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Christmas 2017 : My man and his dishes

This year we hosted the Christmas celebration in our place. We had 6 people joining us. It meant a lot of cooking, and sleeping arrangement.

Hubby's mind was concentrated on fine cuisine in early December. During the weekends, he browsed through websites to get ideas, and tried out dishes and desserts. 

On Christmas Eve, he spent almost the whole day in the kitchen. Here he was preparing the first dish.

 The first dish was served : puff pastry topping with apples and foie-gras.

 The first type of verrine : beet mousse

 Dressing the second dish : salmon with crab meats and cream cheese

 Second dish served.

 The second type of verrine : Shrimps with avocado mousse

 Dressing the third dish : scallop & leek on puff pastry

 Third dish served with two type of sauces 

At this point our guests complained that they were too full for more. We then switched to cheese.

By the time the desserts were served, it was already passed mid might. I was so tired that I went to sleep. Hubby prepared two type of Christmas cakes. One was with chocolate favor.

The second dessert with caramel favor.

During the weekends before Christmas, he tried out several site dishes. The results were disappointing so he abandoned them.

One weekend he prepared these five verrines for us. They were scrumptious so he served some of them during Christmas Eve, some on Christmas day. 

He wanted it to be perfect for the Christmas cake. So he did twice before Christmas. It looked and tasted good, unfortunately I was not a dessert person, and my girls didn't like it. So imagine, the chef had to eat every evening a slice of cake by himself, in order to finish it, before he tried again.

He got my total admiration on his determination and persistence on presenting the best dishes he could to serve our guests. There were a lot of stress as he had to prepare every dish until all the guests were gone. He did a very good job.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Did you use my mushroom?

I used to be the one buying groceries, preparing meals for the family. Sincerely, I know I did a poor job, and I didn't particularly enjoy it. I found myself always buying the same ingredients, making the same meals. Worst, I lost even the motivation to cook dishes I used to cook. My husband pointed out : he barely sees curry chicken, clay-pot chicken anymore.

Things just gradually changed. I needed to cook dishes that I know my kids would at least eat. And, time was pressing, after picking up kids from school, I didn't have much time nor energy left to prepare somethings more decent. 

Since I was the one buying grocery, there was a bookkeeping in my mind. We just finished this, we were running out of that, we needed to buy this, the kids demanded that. I was not used to plan ahead neither. I started planning dinner when I drove home, or the night before. And I remembered I had that and this ingredient left in the fridge.

Except that, it was mostly hubby who handled meals during the weekend. And sometimes he did complementary groceries for his own needs. I would complain : why did you buy bacon again? We had three packs sitting in the fridge! You know we had two bags of potatoes here, and you just bought the third one? Due to my complains, he would buy according to what I ask him to use in the fridge. But then it created another problem, I didn't know what he was going to cook, and when he was going to use the last pack of "lardon", I protested : No! I needed that for tomorrow dinner! He was so frustrated that he yelled at me : everything I do it's just wrong to you!

Then it comes this planning change, a change I welcomed with my heart. He decided to take care of the kids on Wednesdays (4/5ème). Now he works 4 days a week and I switched to full time. Since Awena goes to school as well, we can finally do the one parent sends them in the morning one parent pick them up at the evening model. I choose to send them because I'm not a morning person. Most of the time during the week, when I got home, the dinner is served. Except evenings when I work from home so would pick  them up right after school, and sometimes I prepare dinner.

But mainly, hubby handles grocery.
And what happened? The other day, I heard him saying : did you use my mushroom?
No I didn't.
He finished them without realizing.
Did you use my fish?
No I didn't.
The fish just went missing. We didn't know why.





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When all the chocolates are gone

On the 30th of November, one day before the kids were allowed to open their advent calendar, I saw that Awena had already took out 3 chocolates out of hers. Unlike her sister, she is just someone who doesn't listen to her parents. Hubby caught her hiding the chocolates in her room.

On the second day of December, six chocolates were gone, amid our warning that she would soon run out of it, and someday she would just see her sister eating chocolate while she has non. The warning didn't work, she refused even to open the box by date. She just randomly chose the boxes she wanted.

On the fourth day of December, she decided to open all the boxes, got out all the chocolates, and laid them on the floor.

On the 7th day of December, all the chocolates were eaten. Meanwhile, the big sister follows the rule, she patiently enjoys a chocolate per day.

Maybe that's because she's three that she doesn't understand things, or that's just her nature personality. She is just so different from her elder sister. When we said no to candy, the elder one was disappointed but did nothing. Whereas the younger one, she smiled at you, did nothing in front of you, but eventually you would find out that she ate a candle, at your back.

I hope things get improved. The house is a mess permanently and 80% of the damages came from her. She is just so unbearable. 


The arm broken witch

Didn't manage to finish this post earlier.
We are at Christmas season but I had something to record to myself about Halloween.
Halloween was not a big event in general in France. For example it didn't have the Halloween parades in most of the cities just like in  the US. Last year the kids were away, we got so many kids knocking on the doors that we were so fed up at the end. 

Can you see her arm cast? Well, she broke it the first day of school holidays, on the trampoline. It seemed ok at the beginning, but she cried during the night, her hand was swollen the second morning so hubby decided to call a doctor as it was a Saturday. In France, clinics do not open on weekends (except Saturday morning). A doctor came, declared broken bone in her wrist, and she was going to the emergency. Yeah, there was no other option, the girls were supposed to go after lunch with their grandparents, but instead she went with hubby to the emergency. Emergency here doesn't mean fast treatment, they waited for like 4 hours until someone finally entertained them. I have always wondered why people had to go to emergency for this kind of things. I mean it could totally be done by a small clinic, for radiography and putting the cast. But not, such clinics don't exist, so everyone with something broken would have to wait in emergency, after the personals treat life threatening cases and have some times for this kind of patients. 

My MIL prepared the costumes for them, and I think she did a good job. 

Finally our turn to go knock on our neighbors' door. Around half didn't answer, some answered but said they ran out of candies, or parents not at home....

Mostly they just want candies. I don't understand why we give kids so many candies, it was just another successful western marketing campaign I guess. 

Her arm cast lasted 6 weeks. She had to stop going to swimming classes and gymnastic training. She wrote and ate with her left hand, until when the cast was removed, she couldn't adjust back to using the right hand immediately. Overall, I felt that she was really brave, didn't fuss much about the inconvenient cast, I helped her wash, she mostly changed herself. At school, her classmates offered to jot down notes for her. I was so eager for it to be over, didn't like to see her in cast. Hubby said she got his gene, he broke many parts of his body when he was young. Well, I hope this is not true...