Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tricky prices

Summer sales has started earlier this year. I was going to check out good deals during lunch time but was too annoyed by the crowd. I quickly grabbed some groceries and discover this:

A bar of 100g soap is priced at 90 cent each or 9€ per kilo.

A package of 4x100g soap costs 2.65€ or 6.63 per kg, less expensive than buying one soap. It applies the rule of the more you buy, the less per unit you pay.

Now, a package of 6x100g soap is displayed at 5.49€ or 9.15 per kg. What the hell? Buying 6 bar of soaps is more expensive than buying one?

Yes, this is the trick uses in most of the grocery store. Whenever they package items together, we thought we will pay a cheaper price per unit but it is not always a the case. After being tricked for many times, now I slowly build the habit to compare prices when they come into different packaging. In this case of buying soap, it was the cheapest to buy 4 at one time (6.63 per kg) than to buy 6 (9.15 per kg). It was actually cheaper to buy one soap (9€ per kg) than buying 6.

Grocery stories nowadays are full of tricks...
And I wonder if the sales started earlier because some consumers have their half 13 months salary at the end of June?

Friday, June 24, 2011

18 months

I was too lazy to post when Aelig turned 17 months that's why I'm combining these two months developments / achievements.

According to our babysitter, 18th month is a milestone for kids, Aelig is now considered a little girl, she is no longer a baby.

Language development:

This is how she looks like when she says "NO"

She could now pronounce several words that are understandable:

In French: Chat (cat), kaka (poo poo), papa, maman, NON, doudou (toy), merci (thank you), la tête (head), main (hand), dodo (sleep), papounet (she pronounces papoutête)
In Mandarin: Mama, cat, dog, shoes, bao bao (hold), hot, thank you
In English: Bye bye, baby
In Malaysian Chinese baby language: nen nen (milk), mam mam (eat)

She is a chatty box but most of the time still converse in baby language. She would run towards me pointing at stuffs and babbling with an emergency tone. Sometimes it was because her milk leaked on the pillow, her toy was under the sofa, she wanted a cookie on the counter-top, she wanted to play with the computer...

Messing up with papa's computer. You go GIRL!

In terms of comprehension, she could understand some simple instructions:
Bring your shoes here
Put the dirty cloth in the laundry bin
Drink water
Give this to papa
Let's go to sleep
Let's go take a shower
Say bye bye

She loves looking at books and pointing at pictures. Since I have only one Mandarin book, I started to show her Mandarin nursery rhythms in Youtube. Hubby taught her to press the Space key to pause so sometimes she plays with it. Anyway, the first song she sang was in French, it hit me hard that her first mother tongue is going to be French instead of Mandarin as she spends more time with the babysitter and I'm the only one speaking Mandarin to her.

An animal lover

We brought her to the zoo and she showed interest in most of he animals. The sheep came towards her as she has a brochure on her hand.

Ended up she was being chased by a bunch of sheep who wanted to eat the brochure, she got so annoyed that she screamed and asked hubby for rescue.

The babysitter has a cat so she is familiar with cat. Whenever she sees one she would follow and try to touch it. She has no sense of danger so I have to always keep an eye on her.


Finally gained enough weight to have the car seat set facing the same direction as other adult passengers.

Manage to drink water from a glass (we still prefer her to drink from a plastic cup)

Know how to use her legs to move the little car

Blow her stuffy nose

First step towards becoming cordon bleu (world class chef)? I do not dream high, just hope she could be a little helper in the kitchen (instead of messing around).

Parenting milestones:

1. Sleeping pattern
I finally admitted that my method to put her to sleep was not working. I decided to outsource the task to hubby. He was firmed and after a week, her bad behavior was corrected. Sometimes I put her to bed and was amazed at how well she cooperates. She plays and talks to her toys then dozes off. Sometimes she cries and hubby goes to reassure her, sometimes we let her stay a bit longer with us, but we no longer take as much time as before. As for me, I'm no longer the mother who picks her up at her first cry.

2. Discipline
Hubby disciplines her most of the time, telling her to not drop food on the floor else she will have to stay in her room. His methods work fine, but I could not do it. No matter how annoying she is, I have hard time yelling or letting her cry.

A big thank you to hubby who manage to work things out when I'm vulnerable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Laser refractive eye surgery: First appointment with Dr Jean-Max Mégroz

I have thought of doing the laser surgery since a while back. The idea was put on hold, mainly due to lack of courage. I have finally gotten the gut to take the first step. I asked around and people told me that La Clinique Sourdille in Nantes has good reputation in this field.

Someone recommended Dr Jean-Max Mégroz, a very experienced doctor in laser refractive eye surgery. I called for an appointment and it was scheduled for three months later.

Yesterday, I went for the first appointment. The main goal was to have an assessment to determine if I'm a suitable candidate for this surgery.

Dr Mégroz's clinic is well situated, right in front of the tramway stop Félix Faure. Once arrived, I was immediately called for several exams. Around 6 to 7 staffs were handling all the examinations with different kind of medical machines. The waiting room was full of patients (above 10 people at one time) from different age range, the staffs had good coordination between one exam to another and between one patient to another. They explained well the procedures and indicated clearly when I can wink my eyes (really appreciated this!). I had three exams before meeting Dr Mégroz.

He started with my name. He guessed I was not a Korean nor Thai, but he has no clue what nationality I could be. When the guessing game ended, he confirmed that I was his first Malaysian patient. He then read the exam results, checked my eyes, explained me the procedures, answered my questions, and I was sent to have an exam which is called "Topographie Cornéenne".

In the waiting room, one of his staffs came to give me eye drops, 3 times with 5 minutes interval. After a few minutes, my near-sighted vision changed, I couldn't even see what time it was on my cellphone. My vision came back to normal only in the evening. When all exams finally ended, it didn't take me long to see Dr Megroz again. He concluded that I could perform the laser surgery. The operation will be on a Thursday, it will last for 30 minutes for both eyes, I could go home in the afternoon accompanied, rest on Friday and weekend, good to go to work on Monday. The technology he uses is LASIK Femto Second.

The whole assessment took around 2 hours. It costed me 110€, 55€ not reimbursable by the national insurance but could be covered by my company insurance. He gave me a quotation for the surgery, 1300€ per eye. If everything goes well my insurance will cover part of it, and hubby already approved the expenses on the remaining cost.

Now, rest to decide GO or NO GO for this adventure. If you don't hear from me again about this topic in September, consider that I chicken out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Miss Météo (Weather) at Canal +

The French TV channel Canal + has a program calls Le Grand Journal (The Big News) everyday from 7pm to 8.50pm. They have a Miss Météo, Charlotte Le Bon, who presents the weather forecast.

Every Friday, she arrives with Beehive hairstyle in the 1960s and the news is presented in black and white.

She has a very unique way to present the weather: She talks about anything but the weather. When she finishes, the TV shows a picture of the weather, in silent.

Yesterday she was talking about using a chain as a way of contraception.

I think that's a very unique and different way to present news and she is surely a charming lady. And she is only 25 years old!

Gifts from the USA!

CAT CAT, a Malaysian living in the USA organized a blog contest to guess how much she weighted and I won. Well, no one successfully gave the exact number so she decided to award the first three contestants. I was the first one to guess so she chummily sent gifts all the way from the USA to France.

The gifts consisted of a recycling bag, a kitchen tower and a set of corn pick.

Love all of them especially the recycling bag, I already made a trip to the recycle bin with it.

Thanks a lot CAT CAT aka Rambutan! Here's a photo of rambutans we recently bought from a shop here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lundi de Pentecote (Pentecost Monday ) - it is complicated

Monday 13 Jun was a public holiday so the week starts on Tuesday. At work, I was chatting with an overseas coworker:
Coworker: Hey, you were on leave yesterday?
Me: No, yesterday was public holiday here.
Coworker: Oh really? How come B came to work? I was with him on the phone.
Me: Errr, for some people it was holiday and for some it was not.
Coworker: ???
Me: It is complicated. I don't know how to explain.

At this point, I remembered my superior once said:"Yeah, France is expert in making things complicated.

The Lundi de Pentecost (Pentecost Monday or Whit Monday) is a religious celebration 50 days after Easter. It was one of the 11 French public holidays but In 2004, the French government has named it as "Solidarity day", where employees were asked to come work for free on a public holiday and the employers would then pump money to fund supports for old people and the disabled. This came as a solution proposed by the government after the 2003 heat wave which resulted in high rate of dying among old people. Each year, this Solidarity day raises around 2.4 billion euros. In 2008, the government amended the law and decided to let employers decide on which day and which way they want to impose the Solidarity day. Employers can ask employees to work on any public holiday (except 1 May), work extra 7 hours during the year or deduct a day off from their leaves.

In my company, each year we receive a mail from the HR stating whether Pentecost Monday is a public holiday. If not mistaken, last two years everyone got the day off without cost. This year, it depends on the payment schemes. Employees who are with the scheme A (like me) didn't need to come to work, but people who are with scheme B (like B) needed to work or else they had to deduct one day from their leaves. Whereas for hubby, the company was closed and everyone was asked to take a mandatory day off.

This Solidarity Day has made me think about the "Pay it forward" model in the Western countries versus "Pay back" model in most of the Asian countries. As per my understanding, children in Eastern countries grow up learning that it is their responsibility to take care of their aging parents as a way to pay back the love given by their parents, whereas children in the Western world believe that their main responsible is to continue the good upbringing of their own children. As a result, there are less old folk's homes in Asian countries as old people living away from children are considered "being abandoned" by their children. Whereas in France, it is rare that children parents live under the same roof. A lot of old folks prefer to live independently and government agencies are well established to cater need to senior citizens.

I once asked hubby's grandma what would bring her pleasure. She told me whenever we visit her, she feels very happy. The other grandmother kept telling me how our trip together to Jura Mountain had given her an unforgeable moment, as due to her health issue she would not be able to do it anymore. Once I asked my coworker why in France it is rare to see 3 or 4 generations traveling together. She said that traveling with old people would mean limiting themselves to certain type of activities, it is simply not in the mentality to bring a grandma to ski for example. I feel sad to see old people left alone during summer vacation as they no longer capable of driving long distance. I'm petrified to think that one day, I will just die alone in my home and be discovered days after.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday morning bread hunt 4

I didn't plan to go bread hunt this morning. Aelig dragged me out from the bed since 7.30am and showing her kid songs on Youtube didn't quite consume her energy. She was very happy when I told her to bring her shoes. Shoes = going out that's something she learnt quickly.

However, there was no point putting her shoes on as she wanted me to hold her ALL the journey to the bakery and back to home. Everytime I say "walk yourself" she would shake her head. When I put her down she sat on the floor and screamed. Once I walked away and she reciprocated by walking off the other way and was trying to cross the road, scared the hell out of me. So she won. I need to tell her that if she doesn't want to walk she will end up in her stroller next time.

Got home, she walked straight towards our bedroom. Papa was up already but he quickly ran back to the room. This time I bought two pain au chocolat so she happily handed one to papa. Everyone is happy, she finished most of her bread and was trying to get some from papa but of course he refused.

A side note: Hubby told me that kids like to go to the bakery as usually they will get a special treat. Most of the time, Aelig got something when she went with hubby, but NEVER with me. Today, out of the blue, the seller gave Aelig a chouquette, and that was when she was touching the checkout machine, she probably wanted to keep her busy with something else. The seller knows me and hubby are husband and wife (once hubby went to buy bread and was told that his wife just got the last baguette), but she played favorite with hubby. Now she finally upgraded me to her favorite customer list, or was this just a one time treat?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Do I tell her I love her?

"Do you tell Aelig you love her?", hubby asked me one day.
"Ah, no, you?".
"Of course." He replied firmly.
"But I have never heard it."
"During our precious daughter-father time." He said it with an affectious smile.

Culturally it is hard for me to say "I love you" especially in Chinese. It is just not something I usually do and mind you, I have never said it to my parents and I didn't hear these three words growing up. But I do make a conscious reply when hubby says it (he trained me else I won't hear the end of it). I do however, kiss Aelig goodnight before she goes to bed. It is something from hubby's family and it is considered rude if I do not kiss everyone goodnight before going to bed. But, but, I do not kiss Aelig EVERY FIVE MINUTES like what I have seen doing by some French parents.

Like grandma said:"Malaysians are nice people but just that you guys are so cold, you do not kiss each other!" Yes I'm cold, I'm conservative, I'm not expressive, but it is the way I was raised. I feel awkward that I need to tell someone I love you, can't one just feel or see the love through my actions?

Here is a song written by a father to his son, he never mentioned love, but you can feel it from the lyrics, from all the things he wanted to do for his son:
Kissing my baby
I want to cross over mountain
Searching for the missing sun
Searching for the missing moon
Kissing my baby
I want to cross over ocean
Searching for the missing rainbow
Catching the short life shooting stars
I want to fly to the inexhaustible nighttime sky
Pick a star and make it your toy
I want to touch the moon with my hand
And write your name on it
And write your name on it
I will finally make home safely
So that I can tell you everything
Kissing my baby
I want to walk towards the end of the world
Looking for the snowman long existed in the legend
I will use every means
So that he could pronounce your name
So that he could pronounce your name
I will finally make home safely
So that I can tell you everything
Kissing my baby

Pick a star as his toy, write his name on the moon, teach a snowman to pronounce his name, all these are mission impossible but he is willing to do for his son. If this is not love, what is it then?