Monday, August 31, 2009

The Erdre river and all that jazz

It was a sunny weekend. We had a date with the Erdre river and jazz. The Conseil General was organizing the annual jazz festival along the Erdre river. Boats were parading on river while we were listening to the musics.

People waiting for boats passing by.

Boats parading, some were so old I thought I was at the Pirate of the Caribbean era.

Some musicians just set up a booth and started playing. They even brought wine to share with the audiences.

A classical jazz band. Where were the audiences?

It was so hot so they were hidden under the shade. :-)

Some musicians played on the boat.

And they have got audiences came by boat and stayed on board while listening.

Some people playing, some people drinking, some people cruising

Overall, it was a nice event, money well spent. The Conseil General used the tax money to sponsors these bands which foster the jazz culture, people came for free musics and songs but they paid for restaurants, hotels and shopping. It boosted the local economy plus made the music lovers happy. Win win situation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thanks to the electricity breakdown

This morning when I arrived at work, my coworkers informed me that there was an electricity breakdown in several floors including ours. We headed to the office kitchen and I started taking my breakfast there. By talking to my coworkers, I realize that as a pregnant woman, I'm entitled to half an hour more resting time, which I could use to have a nap, take doctor appointments or just leave work earlier. I can also go for doctor appointments and come in later to work.

The breakdown went for more than a hour and I managed to use the chance to get all the doctor appointments I needed to take. Since most of the medical secretaries start accepting appointment calls after 9am, I always find it hard to use the office hour for personal calls. Today, I got appointments with:
- my doctor who does the pregnancy follow up (her secretary didn't give me a hard time today, usually she doesn't like when I take Saturday appointment, she said Saturdays are reserved for emergency cases)

- a gynecologist for the follow up from 7th month to the due date (we were worried as during the second ultrasound last week, we were told that it was too late to take an appointment with their gynecologist, which is necessary if we want to do the registration for the delivery with this hospital)

- a midwife for the delivery preparation classes (I'm so glad she works on Saturday, most of the gynecologist don't work on Saturday except one that are on duty for emergency cases)

Wow I'm so relief now that I have taken these appointments. Everything seems to get back on track. I was worried that non of the gynecologists would have a spot for me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The 88th birthday

I have never expected that while I'm assimilating to the French culture, my French family is learning and practicing some of my Malaysian culture too. The day after I got my 10 years resident card, my FIL emailed me saying that:" Do you realize that you got the card on 8.8.09, a very lucky date?" I was like, wow no I didn't realize, and didn't know they would even remember that.

(For your information, 8 is considered as an auspicious number in the Chinese culture, that was why the China Olympics' inauguration ceremony last year was held at 8.08pm on 08.08.08)

Then, my in laws decided to celebrate hubby's grandma's 88th birthday since it is supposed to be a lucky age for her. So off we went to a small touristic town in the west of the Brittany. As usual, she greeted us with her delicious home cook meals.

She lives alone since grandpa passed away several years ago. Whenever we come visit, she would cook us our favorite dishes and desserts. She purposely prepared the Lemon Tart as dessert as she knows it is one of my favorite desserts here. During the preparation, she accidentally burnt the tart and was upset for a while. She quickly prepared a second one, but I liked the burnt tart as well and everyone finished it before starting the second tart.

I'm just lucky to have a loving and caring grandma like this. On the other hand, I don't know if I can bear to live alone in such a big house, passing my days reminiscing on everything happens here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My 140 euros Renault Laguna keycard

We have finally bought a new Laguna keycard, which costed us 140 euros for both the new key and the reprogramming.

Three years after we bought the car (used), the keys started to have problems. One couldn't unlock and one couldn't lock. We tried to put the battery from one card to another but it didn't work. For a while, we locked the car manually, which involved getting out of car, leaving the back door open and leaning in and hitting the central locking button. Unlocking the car involved taking out a part on the handle and take out the key from the keycard. We were bearing with these for a while until one day, one of the keys couldn't start the car anymore. When push on the start button, a red round light flashes on the car screen.

We were afraid that the other key will follow suit and one day we would not be able to start the car entirely. We decided to pay the price: 140 euros just to get a new car key!

I would like to have another key as a backup but paying another 140 euros is just too much to bear. I decided to check on the internet, and here I found this site teaching people how to repair a Laguna key themselves:

I haven't tried it yet as it involves mending one of the components. We don't have the tool to do it.

Another solution, a garage in UK repairs the key for 25 pounds plus postal cost:

I would like to find a garage that would repair it just for 25 euros, anyone knows any garage like this in France?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One month pregnant & we already had to do all these...

We went for a doctor visit to confirm my pregnancy.

Doctor: "You are one month pregnant, expecting a Christmas baby. Now, let me tell you things you have do.
- First, register with a hospital/clinic that you would like to have the labor.
- Second, take appointment for your first ultrasound.
- Third, register with your local government run daycare center.
- Fourth, prepare documents to inform the government agencies about your pregnancy."

We were overwhelmed. I thought she was over worried so I didn't pay much attention. Hubby went online, browsed through forums to compare the 4 hospital/clinics in Nantes. About two weeks later he chose the Clinique Jules Verne. He called the clinic and was informed that they are fulled for the whole month of December! How did those people managed to reserve a bed then? They called when they were one week pregnant?

I got awaken by this news. Ok maybe In Nantes we just need to act fast. So I quickly called the second clinic in our list. Luckily the secretary informed us that they have plenty of rooms and I do not have to worry too much. However, for the first ultrasound, they were fully book on the Saturdays I wanted. Since the doctor said I have to do this between 11 to 13 weeks of pregnancy, we had no choice but both me and hubby had to take a day off.

As for the daycare center, there are three in our community with about 70 spots. The one closest to us closes on Wednesday, so it doesn't really suit our need. We were immediately discouraged by these information. They are so many babies in our areas, how can we fit into these 70 spots? We should we put the baby on Wednesday? We concluded that we should instead get a baby sitter. Friends told us that even for a baby sitter, we need to book early as in some cities the demand is higher than supply.

Gosh, so much work to do at 1.5 months, we are not even having the baby yet.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Got my 10 years carte de resident (resident card)

Cool I got my 10 years permanent resident card (carte de resident)! No more renewal every year.

Yesterday morning we walked in to the Town Hall, surprised that they are open during a holiday season, and we were the first to be served. The officer handed me a card similar to this one:

Some differences between this 10 years card and my previous one are:
- The title of the card has changed to "Carte de resident" instead of "Carte de sejour temporaire".
- The motif of stay is "Toute profession en France Metropolitane dans le cadre de la legistration en vigueur" instead of "vie privee et familiale"
With this new motif of stay, I can work in any part of France except her overseas territories.

It was a hassle free process ever since I moved to Orvault and renew my card in the local Town Hall instead of the Nantes Prefecture. This Town Hall opens every Saturday morning so I don't even need to take a day off. No appointment needed and no long queue like in the Nantes Prefecture.

2 months before my card expires, I went to the local Town Hall with a list of documents:
a. 4 recent passport size photos
b. my passport + photocopies of the first page, the entry stamp to France and the visa and it's validation date
c. hubby's ID card
d. le livret de famille (family book you got from the Town Hall during your civil wedding)
e. document that can justify your home address : electricity bill (EDF) or others
f. both me and hubby have to be present and provide at least 2 documents which can prove that we are still living together, example our tax return form (with both our names on it), our bank statement...)

Five weeks later I received a letter from the Town Hall, asking me to pick up my temporarily card (recipissee).

Another five weeks later I received the convocation to pick up the resident card. In the convocation it states that I need to bring along my expired carte de sejour, the temporarily card recipissee and an OMI stamp with 70 euros face value.

Now that I have my ten years card, I'm thinking about getting the French nationality. However, since Malaysia doesn't recognize double citizenship, it means that I would lose the Malaysian citizenship, something that is still precious in my eyes. I just hope that one day Malaysia will change the laws and allow her citizens living overseas permanently to keep their nationality.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No pressure on boy or girl

In several weeks we should be able to find out the gender of our baby. Some of our French friends here have chosen to not know the gender so that they could have surprise when their child is born. Luckily, me and hubby have the consensus to know whether it is a she or he as soon as we can.

The Chinese community in Malaysia has pretty much evolved and less emphasis on the ancient tradition of having a son. However, the influence of the Confucius thinking of continuing the family name and tree still exist in some families, especially when the person involves is the eldest son in the family. One of my neighbors tried 6 times and have 7 daughters (once she got twin), but she never gave up. Finally, she got a son at the 7th time. In my generation, people who have son at the first try usually feel relief. Those who have daughter wish they could have a son at the second or third try. The younger generation cares less about continuing the family name but most of the time it is their parents who feel guilty if they don't get any grandson as it means the family name ends on their hand. Some people believe they will meet their ancestors eventually one day, so not continuing the family name is a big shame that they could not afford to bear.

I will say that I'm very fortunate to be married into a family that welcome both boy and girl. There is no pressure from anyone around me that I have to have a son or a daughter. From my observation, in general, French families like to have at least a son plus a daughter, but they will not force it by having more kids than they wish. Hubby's paternal grandmother has more than 10 grand grand kids but non of them bear the family name. They are either grand-kids from her daughters or kids from her granddaughters. Our kid will be the first to bear the family name. If he was from a Chinese family, I think I would have all the pressure from the grandmother and even from his parents. But no, the grandmother loves all her grand grand-kids, it doesn't matter which side they are from. Lucky us!

As for me, I wanted a girl but now I'm not sure anymore. During a conversation with my carpooler, he told me that he wished to have a daughter but he is now happy to have two sons. If he were to have a daughter, he would have worried to death about many things: if she will get cheated by other men, pregnant at early age...but now he just need to tell his sons to practice safe sex. I think his logic kind of got into me. As for hubby, he is happy to have either son or daughter, nonetheless he is worried that he has to fight with his daughter to use the bathroom. "Just ask her to put the makeup kit and mirror in the her room", I told him. :-)