Monday, December 26, 2011

Meeting Santa Claus

We had a splendid Christmas gathering with family. This year's theme concentrated on bringing jubilant moments to the little angel.

In the middle of the feast, someone was knocking on the door. Aelig went answered the door.

Oh, Santa Claus is coming! Everyone was telling her that was "père Noël" (Santa Claus in French)! She starred at him suspiciously, but was quickly influenced by the joyful atmosphere and followed him into the house.

"Are you really Santa Claus"? She seemed to doubt it. Apparently, she was calling "papounet" to Santa when we asked her to give him a kiss.

When she saw those presents Santa brought, she kept yelling "cadeau" (present in French) and wanted Santa to open one of them.

Santa was taking off and wanted to give her a hug. She reluctantly obliged. Second later she requested to go to her tonton Benjy's arms. Something is fishy about this Santa, she seemed to tell herself.

Inspired from one of her nursery songs, I had prepared a game. The song describes about a kid who has hard time pulling out a carrot so he asks help from a grandpa, a grandma, a dog, a cat and a mouse. Aelig was going to play as the carrot but she didn't want to cooperate, so we change the game. I was singing the song and each round calling a person, to join the force to swing her! Look how excited she was!

After the song / swing, she wanted more, and since everyone was standing in a circle, she went from one to another, asking to play acrobat with her. First with papa, then with mamounette, mamig, papounet...

and even tonton Benjy was invited to play. She did this several rounds and we would see what she was extremely elated. What a wonderful Christmas for her!

Seeing how everyone was ready to do the best to please her, it touched me enormously. I love my family here. I hesitated if we should really lie to her about the existence of Santa Claus, or should we spoil her with gifts, or should we introduce her another version of Santa where he would arrive through the chimney, and the kids will prepare some biscuits and milk the night before... All these doubts are gone, as long as we celebrate as family and she is happy, all is fine with me.

Note: We didn't have the roasted capon with chestnuts. It is my father in laws' signature dish and it is the family tradition to have it during Christmas lunch. Have to wait till next year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2 years old

On the way to work yesterday I passed by the Clinic where Aelig was born. I was grinning from ear to ear thinking of the moments we were waiting for Aelig to come to the world, 2 years ago.

We are heading to BIL new house for Christmas Eve gathering. I have this post done first, her birthday celebration + Christmas celebration will follow next week.

Language developments
New vocabularies in
French: pardon (sorry), c'est fini (it's finished), oui, (yes), monte (raise), boire (drink), c'est quoi ça (what is this), quoi (what), mange (eat), faim (hungry), tu veux (do you want), viens (come), genoux (laps), ça va (are you ok), attend (wait), a demain (see you tomorrow), bonne journée (have a nice day), monsieur (sir), madame (madam), c'est à moi (it's mine)

Mandarin: fan (rice), ma ling su (potato), luo bo (carrot), ping guo zhi (apple juice), pu tao zhi (grape juice), xiao (laugh), ku (cry), shen mu (what), gei wo (give me), fang pi (fart), qi e (penguin), pang xie (crab), xiao shiong (teddy bear), da kong zi (rooster), xiao ya zi (duckling), hou zi (monkey), xiao tu zi (bunny), shi zi (lion), xiao xing xing (little star)

Note: She can better pronounce certain words in Mandarin that she couldn't two months ago, for example everything that ends with zi. It is funny to see her saying good morning or waving goodbye to strangers. She uses the word "pardon" when she bumped into me, she even asked "ça va" (are you ok) with her face showing her concern. When she farts she will say: "Aelig fang pi"!


I found that she learns a lot of words from listening to songs. These days I tried to let her listen to songs available in Mandarin, English and French with the same music. For examples:
Xiao xing xing (Little star), Twinkle twinkle little star, (there is a French version but I have yet to find a nice one on Youtube)
Liang zhi lao hu (two tigers), Are you sleeping, Frère Jacques (Brother Jack)

I also exposed her to songs in other languages:
Chan Mali Chan (Malay) - I couldn't find any video for Rasa Sayang, if you have one please send the link to me.
The animal exercise song in Japanese
Merry Christmas in Hokkien
Moonlight in Cantonese
Papa penguin (German)


When she sees a duck, she says "canard" (duck in French). I will say yes, this is xiao ya zi (duckling in Mandarin). She would object and says "no, no, c'est canard". On the other hand, she started saying "oui" (yes in French), like when I propose her to eat certain things or watch certain videos.

After putting her to bed, if I forgot to give her a kiss, she would raise from her crib and yell "bisous maman!"

Some highlights this month:
The hiding game. She likes to hide behind the curtain. We would pretend that we didn't see her and keep asking why she was. She would giggle and we would scream "ah you are here".

Her granddad made her a table so that she can play computer games. Just kidding, it is a desk for reading.

We brought her to the Christmas market. This was the second time she rode on a carousel (manège in French). She didn't want to try it at first but once she was on the wooden horse, she held on to it and refused to come down.

Santa Claus has already passed by once. Her sitter gave her a toy who sings French nursery rhythms. Well, hubby couldn't stand it much as she plays it over and over again and she insisted to sit beside him while playing.

Her dress for Christmas Eve gathering.

I wish you a Merry Merry Christmas and may Santa Claus bring you lots of joys and happiness.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How I wish the postman is as efficient as Santa Claus

I was eagerly waiting for my photo calenders to arrive, since I received an email saying that they were sent out on last Saturday. It would take two business day.

Tuesday passed. Nothing
Wednesday passed. Nothing. Oh oh.
Thursday afternoon, I got a note from the Postman saying that he came by and nobody was at home, so we have to collect it at the local Post Office. The note indicated the operating hours: from 8.30am to 12pm then 2pm to 6pm.
Right, times when most of the people are at work.

I was deeply disappointed. He could have left it with the guardians.
I wish the postal services here are as efficient as the Santa Claus, always deliver at the time frame promised.

Actually, things have improved over the years. Once, the UPS guy called to check if we were at home since we missed him the first time he passed by. I asked him to drop it at the guardian office and he did.
The DHL guy dropped our packages with our neighbors.
The La Poste guy, he always drops a note instead of passing by the Guardians' office. This put everyone in lose-lose situation. He has to bring the parcel back to his Post Office. Our apartment complex is huge with 14 buildings, that's why we have two guardians, imagine how many parcels he has to bring back during Christmas peak season since he usually does the delivery during our working hours. We have to go pick it up, usually on Saturday since they are closed during lunch hours. It was very inconvenient and once we didn't go pick up within two weeks time frame and the registered mail got sent back to the sender.

Hubby went to pick up the parcel today and he discovered that there was another note from the Postman. For unknown reason, the website I ordered from decided to deliver the calenders in two packages. The one hubby picked up contain only one calender, so the remaining 4 are somewhere in the Post Office. We could go collect them starting from 8.30am tomorrow morning, fingers crossed that we will have them before heading West for Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What to offer for Christmas

Christmas is around the corner, but if you step into my apartment, you will not sense that we are in Decembre: there is no Christmas tree, no advent calender, nor a nativity scene (crèche). I'm simply not motivated for these kind of things, and I have a very good excuse: these French / Christian related traditions are the responsible of hubby, not mine. :-) Ok, seriously, I don't want to buy advent calendar because I don't want Aelig to eat too much chocolates, but I think kids could have so much fun on this so I don't want to take it away from Aelig. So, next year I will buy a cloth one and put chocolates plus maybe homemade cookies inside.

Getting presents is fun but we also have to crack our head to think of things to offer to family members. Hubby is someone who loves surprises so he never has Christmas list. But I think he is losing the game. Year after year I have instilled the practical side to my in laws family (ok his brother too) so now they call to ask what we want for Christmas. I give my suggestion for whoever asked for, I prefer to do it this way so that I won't receive gifts that I would never used. Now, getting presents for grandmas and in laws are really hard as they seem to already have everything.

So, recently, I have discovered one of the gifts that will sure please my family here: photo album or calender using Aelig as the model.

In the photo, family members were looking at the custom-made calender during last Christmas. It was a huge success, everyone hangs it in their place.

During grandma's 90th birthday, I made a photobook that included all her family members. It took me a while to assemble photos from all the cousins, uncles, was very time consuming, but the result was satisfying. She loved it so much that she called to thank me personally. She told me that she has hard time remembering birthday of everyone so this year I made her a calender that lists everyone's birthday by month.

As for my MIL, she would be happy with anything related to Aelig, so for her birthday, I made her an album, listing Aelig's photos and developments every month during her first year. She displays it in her living room.

Our CE gave us gift checks for Christmas. I want to spend it on Aelig's gifts, but I don't know what to buy her yet. Her toys are slowly invading our living spaces.

Louis Vuitton sent me a catalog. Too bad, I don't think I could afford one and I don't think I will ever get this from hubby.

Just a small advertising if you love French pastries and you read Chinese. My friend, a Taiwanese married to a French, wrote a book about French desserts. This could be a great gift to anyone who would like to venture into French pastries (such as Macaron). She can send it within France or you could order from this website. She just had an interview with OuestFrance, the article will be published on 19th Dec and 26th Dec.

Merry Christmas to everyone: eat well, party well and have plenty of presents.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let's exercise

I found this video and have been showing it to Aelig. She loves it.
It shows a bunch of animated animals doing exercise, in Japanese. We try to do it with Aelig but she only managed to sing "ni san". Hopefully she will get the synchronized moves soon.

Here is the video:

I got a friend translated the lyrics for me, I would like to share them here.

Japanese: まねき猫(ねこ)タック子供(こども)体操(たいそう)
Mandarin: 貓與鴨子小孩子作體操
English: Cat, duck and children exercising

First line is in Japanese
Second line is Japanese pronunciation
Third line is in Mandarin
Fourth line is in English

猫 も  アヒル も  皆  一緒に  他招き 猫 タック 子供 体操 
neko mo ahiru mo min na ishouni tamaneki neko ta-ku kodomo taisou
貓和鴨子和大家一起 邀請小朋友作體操
cat, duck, together with everyone is inviting children to do exercise

体  を  動かそう   心  を  動かそう  他招き 猫 タック 子供 体操
karata wo  ugo kasou kokoro wo ugo kasou tamaneki neko  ta-ku kodomo taisou
身體活動活動 心活動活動 邀請貓鴨子小朋友作體操
Moving moving the body, moving moving the heart, inviting cat, duck and children to do exercise

1 2 3 2 2 3 3 2 3 4 2 3
ichi ni san ni ni san san ni san yonn ni san
一二三 二二三 三二三 四二三
One two three, two two three, three two three, four two three

La la la la
啦~ 啦~ 啦~啦~~~

猫 も  アヒル も  皆  一緒に  他招き 猫 タック 子供 体操 
neko mo ahiru mo min na ishouni tamaneki neko ta-ku kodomo taisou
貓和鴨子和大家一起 邀請小朋友作體操
cat, duck, together with everyone is inviting children to do exercise

体  を  動かそう   心  を  動かそう  他招き 猫 タック 子供 体操
karata wo  ugo kasou kokoro wo ugo kasou tamaneki neko  ta-ku kodomo taisou
身體活動活動 心活動活動 邀請貓鴨子小朋友作體操
Moving moving the body, moving moving the heart, inviting cat, duck and children to do exercise

Some explanations:
鴨子=アヒル ahiru 日本語 = Duck (Japanese pronunciation)
Duck =タック duck 外來語 (也就是英文或其他國語言直接音譯) = Duck (English pronunciation)
被邀請=他招き tamaneki = being invited
孩子=子供 kodomo = children
貓= ねこ neko = cat
身體=体 karada = body
心= こころ kokoro = heart
大家=皆 min na = everyone
一起= 一緒に ishouni = together
身體活動=動かそう ugokasou = moving moving the body

Hope you enjoy this video as much as we do.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Malaysian's view of France

I stumbled across this fellow Malaysian's blog. Joanne and her family moved to Paris in early 2011. She has a sarcastic and hilarious way of describing her adventures, and I would say that she has sharp observations on how things work in France. She shared her findings about French culture in Only in France Part 1 and Part 2. It gives me many bitter and sweet memories of my first year here.

It is shameful but I have to admit, that even after 6 years in France, I still feel stress when I have to say or listen to numbers from 70 to 99. The reason is explained in Part 2. That's why I'm doubtful when I read that people who are multilingual will find it easier to learn another new language compared to those who are monoglots. I think it all depends on one's learning capability and how similar the languages are. French is a language that has many exceptions to its own rules, and the best way to learn it is to simply accept it instead of asking why and the logics behind it.

As for her question about what is Toilet Milk, well, frankly, I asked myself this question but didn't insist to find out what was it. My MIL gave me some toilet milk and I just don't use it. I told myself that I do not need to use milk in toilet! So, after seeing her post, I asked grandma what was it. She told me that in French, when she goes to "faire ma toilet", it means that she is going to brush her teeth / wash her face / refreshing up / make up. Toilet milk is actually cleansing milk to remove make up, or wipe baby's butt. Another product related to toilet is "l'eau de toilette" (toilet water) which means perfume. Well, it is hard to associate toilet with perfume if you ask me.

As I said, do not find the logic behind the French word you learn, simply memorize it and use it.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

How to download YouTube Videos to Freebox

I'm so excited, I finally found a way to download YouTube videos and play them on the TV. It is very simple but it took me several months, as previous attempts all resulted in failure.

It requires three steps:
1. Download YouTube videos to flv file
Simply put the URL of the YouTube video here and download it to your hard drive, in flv file (I think it would work in other file formats too, but I didn't try.)

2. Convert the file from flv to avi format
I use this free converter, you need to download it first. There are many free softwares out there, I like this one because it is easy to use and the transfer rate is fast.

3. Upload the converted avi file to Freebox (our internet provider)
Hubby gave me a location to upload the files. I turned on the TV and it worked!!!

I have uploaded around 15 songs (including one Hokkien Christmas song), I'm so eager to see Aelig's happy face when she sees this in the morning. Well, it is going to be a reward for her, she actually went to bed herself at 10pm (still considered late though). She just climbed into her bed, sang to herself, and fell asleep. I was surprised that I didn't hear her for a while, usually she would come back to the living room after playing in her crib. This time she stayed there, light off. Way to go girl!

The Malaysian me Vs the French me

After living for more than 6 years in France, part of me has transformed into French. I do or react like the French (or the majority of them). There are cases where I'm more French than Malaysian, or vise versa. Here are some situations I experienced recently:

Situation one:
I brought Aelig to see our family doctor. While chatting she discovered that I had to take the morning off so she proposed to write me a letter, which could be used to justify my absent. She even asked me if I want a full day off.
The Malaysian me: No, half day is enough, I need to go back to work this afternoon.
While thanking the French system who allows parents to take off to take care of sick kid at home (it will be considered exceptional leave in my company), the French part of me had something to say.
The French me: You are so stupid, if the doctor lets you take a day off, just take it! You are not the one paying anyway. (Some Malaysians would think this way too).

Note: It will not take long for me to abuse (or is it abusing?) the system, I can tell. When I was 5 months pregnant, my doctor ordered me to stop working and I refused. Today I would have hesitated and even agree with her instantly.

Situation two:
Aelig was extremely tired after the doctor visit (the 10.20am appointment only started at 11am). I drove her home and put her to sleep. I was really rush as before going to work I had to cook and feed her and send her to the sitter (at 1.30pm). So, no time to go to the pharmacy to pick up her medicine. And, the pharmacies here close from 12.30pm to 2pm.
The Malaysian me (complaining mode on): Ah, why can't they sell medicines in the doctor cabinet? In Malaysia one can directly buy medicine at the clinic after the doctor visit. I need to arrive at the office before 2pm so there is no way I could buy the medicine and give it to the sitter. Why can't the pharmacies open during lunch time? They could adjust their lunch hours, one group goes for lunch from 11.30am to 1pm, another goes between 1pm and 2.30pm. Or, open until 1pm and close from 1pm to 2.30pm.
The French me: C'est comme ça, c'est la vie. (It's like that, this is life).

Note: My dissatisfaction for the French operating hours can go on for some time. They are not made to provide services or simplify one's life.

Situation three:
At the pharmacy buying medicine. I was given two bottle of something and I hesitated. We got tons of medicine at home, some of them I have never opened them as Aelig refused to take them. Once the Pediatrician prescribed her 4 bottle of iron, which she refused to even take a drop, and now these 4 bottles are collecting dust at home.
The Malaysian me: I'm sorry but I don't think my daughter would take all of these, can I just have one bottle instead? (In Malaysian you have to pay for your medicines)
The pharmacist (not happy): One bottle is not enough to complete the treatment. But you are the one who decide.
The French me: Ok then I will take both. (In France the social security system pays for it).
Ok, ended with two bottles at home and Aelig refused to even finish the first one.

The Malaysian me: You should have insisted on trying one first, you are contributing to the hole in the social security system.
The French me: I'm not the one paying anyway.

Sincerely, I feel bad wasting medicine, and I would say that they come by too easily in France. They some times come in big quantity that one would never be able to finish. For example, Aelig's doctor told me that for one of her vaccines, she only needs 20% of the dose given, but she has to throw the remaining as once opened it won't last. Another example, my eyes are a bit dried after operation. The doctor prescribed me some eye drops, I got two big boxes of it, and I'm forcing myself to use them. I don't really need them, but I didn't know I was going to go home with tons of eye drops either.

Just a note: I'm not complaining, I just think the French medical system is so great that I'm very afraid that we will lose it one day due to abuses / wastes.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Michelle Yeoh in France

I meant to blog about this last Saturday but didn't get a chance. Aelig has been refusing to go to bed. She would climb out from her crib each time we put her to sleep. She only got to bed passed 11pm. By the time she dozed off I was exhausted.

Anyway, Michelle Yeoh appeared on the 8pm news last Saturday to talk about her new movie "The Lady", directed by Luc Besson (French). She played as Aung San Suu Kyi, the heroine of Myanmar.

I was so excited to see her on 8pm News' interview. She would be the first Malaysian born star ever invited to this interview, if not mistaken. French news allocate some times talking about new released movies, most of the time featuring interviews on French movie directors, actresses and actors. A lot of A list Hollywood movie stars are on the list too, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Hopefully more Malaysian - Asian born movies and stars would be introduced to the French audiences.