Sunday, June 27, 2010

When you want to yell and say arggghhh

Arghhhhh, such bad luck!

Last Friday I received a letter from the company health insurance partner saying that they are downgrading our health coverage due to the skyrocketing cost over the years. I didn't know how it affects us until I see the coverage for laser eye surgery: they now only pay for 1000 euros a year per eye! Argghhh, they used to cover 100% of the surgery for both eyes in the same year, I know of two persons already from the company grabbing this good deal.

I have been wanted to go for this surgery even since I know that the company supplementary insurance will take care of all the costs. I got hold up because my BIL who happens to be an optician told me that there are some side effects so I better look into them first before going for the surgery. Then I got pregnant and during the pregnancy and 4 months after delivery one could not go for it since the vision changes during this period. Now that I'm ready for it, I got this letter and the downgrade will take effect starting the 1 of July. The cunning company! They only allows us one week to react so it is certainly too late for me.

Someone recommended me la Clinique Sourdille in Nantes for this surgery so I went to their website to see how much it costs to perform this surgery. I simply chose a doctor and in his website it states that it could cost anything from 1000 euros to 1480 euros per eye depending on the technology using. Sigh, it means that I still need to chip up from my own pocket and could only go for one eye per year.

It is the moment I want to yell and say arggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

She is six months old

Another milestone in her life!

From six months on we could start feeding her solid foods. In the health book (carnet santé, every kid will have one in France) it states that apart from milk she could try out some mashed vegetables and fruits, daily products (yogurts, cheese) and meat. However, since one of the parents is allergy, our doctor advised us to only give her egg, celery, nuts and fish after she turns one year old.

We bought this cake for her but of course eventually it ended up in our stomach. It was super delicious! Anyhow hubby cooked some mashed carrot for her and she also took in some hem. So far so good.

I still breastfeed her in the morning and during the evening as she refuses to drink in bottle before going to sleep. It seems that she understands at home she could have breast milk and at the sitter she could only have bottle milk. Anyway, from time to time when I run out of milk or during the weekend we still feed her in bottle and she drinks very little compared to when she was in the sitter's place. In the past when she wanted to stop drinking she would play with the nipple but one day she decided to shut her mouth, firmly. It cracked us but at the same time it was annoying because she always decides to stop when there are only 10 to 20ml left. Is it possible to teach a baby that she needs to / has to finish her milk / food?

We also discover many ways to make her laugh. She loves to be held high and fly to the sky. When we do this she would burst into a chain of laughing.

I finally managed to clear up her crib, it was taken by whole bunch of clothes and toys. We let her play in there but she still sleeps in her bassinet beside our bed. At this point, I still hesitate to put her in another room, as it is more practical for breastfeeding (she still wakes up during the night for milk) and it is so sweet to be able to see her the first thing in the morning. We will probably send her to her room once she starts sleep through the night.

I will certainly miss this scene whenever we move her crib to her room. One day she will be in her bed and we will be in ours, no more co-bedding during a nap.

I'm certainly not in rush to move her out. She grows up so fast I would really like to treasure the moment with her as much as I can.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daycare or baby sitter?

We got a call from the Town Hall saying that the daycare center close to our apartment has a spot for Aelig in September. It comes to us as a surprise as we applied one year ago and didn't think that they would have an opening for us.

It is a tough decision to make. The advantages for the daycare are that they are very close to our place, literally just down the street where we live, and financially it is a lot cheaper compared to having a babysitter. Besides, Aelig gets to play with a bunch of kids which would help develop her social skill since her young day. By the time she turns 3 she will be well prepared to go to pre-school.

On the other hand, we have a babysitter who helped us through the tough time, who is flexible with her schedule and most importantly, she loves Aelig dearly even though Aelig could be quite difficult compare to another kid she is having.

Well, we need to reply them the latest tomorrow so a decision has to be made tonight.

Hubby and me both lean towards keeping the sitter as we think the most important factor to consider is that she takes good care of Aelig.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Falling in love

We started land hunt again. The project was put on hold last year when I was pregnant.

We saw this piece of hand, I felt in love with the scenery, but we are not getting it.

Imagine sipping a beer in the porch enjoying the picturesque landscape after a long day at work.

Unfortunately, it comes with many negative points. There is a power line passing through the land, right above where people are supposed to build the house as the remaining of the land is for agriculture purposes only. Plus, the countryside scenery is facing north so there is unlikely we will build a porch against the sunshine. The other issue that disturbs us is that this land is situated in a historical town so chances are we will have strict rules to follow when building the house.

Well, the hunting continues...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Is childcare free in France?

A while back someone commented that childcare is free in France. This is not true. As far as I know, you can get many form of helps from the government but at least 15% remain at your own charge.

If both parents are working, there are several childcare options, the most common ones being putting your kid in a government / community runs daycare center or hiring a baby sitter.

Apparently daycare is a cheaper option but it is difficult to get a spot. In our community, we have 3 daycares with about 70 spots, considering that every month we have on average 15 newborns and daycares are open for kids from 0 - 3 years old, it would be very lucky if you get accepted since the first try. I do not know what are the selection criterias, we enrolled since Aelig was 4 months in my stomach but we didn't get accepted.

So, we opted for the second choice: a baby sitter. We got a list from the Town Hall and tried to contact some of them who lived in our areas, but a lot of them do not work on Wednesday, or they do not want to work after certain hours. We consider ourselves lucky as after browsing through the list, only one was still available. To have more choice, I called the Town Hall and got a contact of someone who just got certified. We got a nice feeling with her during the interview and decided to "hire" her. Ever since, she has been magnificent and supportive, she helped us through the difficult period when hubby hurt his ankle. We are very blessed to have someone who adores Aelig and who do not mind working long hours.

So, how much a baby sitter costs actually? That was a question I asked before having Aelig. It depends pretty much on your household income as the government does provide some helps to finance the childcare. There are two principal rates : gross wage per hour and maintenance cost (water, electricity etc) per day. Our sitter charges us 3.80 euros an hour + 2.81 euros per day. She takes care of Aelig 45 hours a week which translates into 741 euros a month. She has to pay for her part of social charges which is around 170 euros per month. Her net income = 741 euros - 170 euros = 571 euros. As her employer, we pay her net income plus the maintenance cost of 2.81 per day. Overall, we pay her around 630 euros every month. The government takes care of 100% employer social charges (retirement, medical care; work accident, unemployment insurance...) which results in around 300 per month.

So, we have an outflow of about 630 euros a month for childcare services. However, depending on your household income, you might get some inflow as you are qualified for childcare stipends. For household who does not earn more than 43365 euros in 2008 with only one child to support, you could get the basic stipend = 177.95 euros a month until the kid turns 3 years old. Besides, there are 3 categories of stipend specifically for childcare, ranking from 167.07 euros a month to 441.63 euros a month. No matter in which category you are, a minimum of 15% of the sitter net income is on your charge.

I hope this information could provide some helps for people who do not read French. We got a booklet when I was pregnant and it explains very well all kind of helps you could get. For those who could read French you have more accurate and updated information on the government website