Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2 years 7 months

Focus on the month:

1. Potty training
We have big resistance from Aelig regarding potty training. Now she cries literally when we mention the potty. She had succeeded several times, but we are back to the starting point. During the evenings and weekends we remove her diaper, but she refused to go on potty and preferred to hold. Sometimes she begs and begs to go back to the diaper, crying each time she wants to poo, saying that she has pain in her stomach but refused to sit down on the potty. She would keep saying " s'il te plaît, s'il te plaît, couche, bobo..." (please, please, diaper, pain...).

2. Sleeping late
She has been going to bed quite late these days. Sometimes I fell asleep before her. She likes to lay beside me, singing, chatting, playing, tickling, then I fall asleep. Anyway, she was not tired in the morning, and took an one hour nap in the sitter's place.

I hope these wouldn't last too long...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

French birth certificate in English for free (Extrait plurilingue)

Thanks to internet, I managed to get Aelig's birth certificate with explanation in several languages including English. I'm very glad as this has saved us 62€, the price per page if ask to be translated by a certified translator. We paid for it for Hubby the last time we applied for a marriage certificate in Malaysia.

Anyway, it seems that most Town Halls should have the service but for some of them you have to call them instead of requesting through internet. For detail see here. The languages available are: German, English, Bosnian, Croatian, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Serbian and Turkish.

It consists of a piece of paper (front and back) with 11 lines of information. At the end of the front page there are footnotes in several languages regarding abbreviations used.

The back page explains line by line in different languages of what was written in the front page in French.

This is definitely a great service, I just hope that they could improve the applying workflow. When I requested through the Town Hall website, I received no email notification but simply a PDF file stating that I asked for the service. Then no news from nobody. I didn't know if they have gotten my request, or it was processed. Two weeks later I call them and was informed that it should have been sent to the Town Hall in my area. I then called my Town Hall, the staff said they have received it and I could pick it up anytime. Well, someone could have at least sent me an email no?

Note: For non French readers, French citizens can ask for their birth certificate for free in the Town Hall where they are born as frequent as they want. The certificate is updated according to your marital status and in the case of death.

Note 2: The Embassy of Malaysia does not provide this kind of translation service.

Note 3: I got an email from JPN Malaysia asking for birth certificate in Malay or English so I hope this would serve.

Good morning

I'm a night owl so I usually sleep late.
Yesterday, my attempt to put Aelig to sleep failed.
Instead she put me to sleep at 10pm and sneaked out of the room after.
Woke up at 6am and managed to enjoy these views.

A Cannabis leave at the entrance

I discovered this at the office entrance one morning. I thought it was just an ordinary leave.

Later on my coworker was joking and he ended his sentence by mentioning that someone has drawn a Cannabis (marijuana)leave at the entrance. I asked him what action would be taken against this person as we kind of know who did it. There had been a group of young kids gathered at the entrance during several evenings. He said what could we do, we are not going to alert the police for a small issue like this.

Indeed graffiti is quite common in certain areas and it is hard to arrest the culprit. Let see how much time it takes before the company decides to repaint the wall.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

5.40€ a meal in the school canteen??

We received the enrollment package from the nursery school and I was surprised at the price for the lunch meal.

5.40€ a meal for a kid of three years old? That's insane! If we subscribe annually the price will drop to around 4.40€ a meal but still it is expensive. A Big Mac here cost around 3.50€ if you want to calculate the Big Mac Index to have an idea of the purchasing power.

And, you can not bring your own lunch box and eat in the canteen. Kids have to either go home for their lunch or eat at the school canteen.

To take the kid home, one parent has to pick her up the latest 11.45am and the school only resume at 1.30pm. So for a working parent, he or she has to take at least 1 hour and 45 minutes lunch break. That's impossible in our case.

I heard that public schools charge cheaper rate as they are subsidized by the government. That's why a lot of parents choose to send their kids to public schools.

There were some reports about foods in school canteen in the recent years as the government required the school authorities to provide balance meals. For example they should reduce the serving of French fries and encourage the students to consume more vegetables and fruits. I heard that a meal consists of entry, main course, cheese, salade and dessert just like what the adults are having. Since Aelig is not a big eater, I'm not sure she could finish everything.

One thing I don't understand is that the government does subsidize students at higher education (universities & private schools). I was paying 2.70€ a meal when I studied in the local university. It just doesn't make sense that my three year old is going to pay higher price a meal than her mama and daddy when they were students.

Ah, all these made me think of my RM1 economy rice & RM0.50 fried kuey teoy at my middle school canteen. Cheap and delicious!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

What are they trying to say?

We went to a garden this morning an saw this car "parked" inside the pond. My first reaction was that there was no way this car can drive inside this garden as there was only a tiny little path leading towards the pond.

Then we saw this sign board. The whole thing was an exhibition from a group of artists. What are they trying to say? I have no idea and there was no further explanation on the sign board. Aelig's playdate insisted to go save the car, we had a hard time preventing him from approaching the pond so we had to lie. We told him the car was home to the ducks. What else could we explain to a kid while us adult didn't know what was going on?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Prague: Gastronomy tours

Gastronomy tours is one of the most important activities for us when traveling. My housemate back during my stay in Austin was from Czech Republic and he had cooked me scrumptious Czech foods. We managed to meet up during the trip after 10 long years and he had brought us to several restaurants during our short stay.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and only had one hour for lunch before meeting up with our tour guide. Hubby chose a restaurant in his travel guide and up we went to this restaurant situated close to Wenceslas Square. First encounter with Czech food in Prague: they love meat and surely know how to cook them. My serving was juicy and tender, the side dish tasted similar to the Chinese bun at home, it went well with the tasty sauce.

For dinner we wanted to dine in a restaurant recommended in the guide book but it was fully booked. It was quite late by then so we just settled in this one. The kitchen was already closed so we ordered some appetizers. It seemed that stripe soup was quite famous here and the waiter suggested us to give it a try. I did and was happy with that choice. Not only it tasted good but it reminded me of my hometown. It was not unusual to find tripe in Chinese cuisine and we especially loved it in soup. What an odd chance to find similarity between Chinese and Czech cuisine!

There were quite some restaurants offering "pork knee" on their menu. It looked yummy but the portion was too much in my opinion. I ordered one on our last day here and could only finished half of it.

Restaurants here offered variety of soups. This one looked special: soup in bread.

I wanted to take a break from meat so I tried out their soup. The verdict: worth a try.

Fried turkey with potatoes.

My friends took us to two restaurants but I forgot to take photos. Too excited and busy catching with him and his lovely girlfriend. He told us that since Czech food was quite meaty, Italian restaurants were well accepted here as they could usually get a more balance meal that included vegetables.

Absinthe. This strong alcohol is banned in France. We found it in Prague and I got a sip of it and couldn't stand the taste. Too strong and too bitter I can't even smell the herbs in it.

Czech is a very difficult language to me. It is hard to pronounce and I couldn't remember even one word after this trip. Well, not exactly. There was one word that I recalled but just because each time I heard it my ears irked. "Děkuji" means "Thank you" in Czech but it sounds like "de couille" in French which means "testicle". Now you can understand why I did not say thank you to anyone there. Anyway, try to pronounce this word in French and see if you can guess what it means.

Our tour guide told us that beers in Prague cost as much as a bottle of water. Indeed. Pivo prosím (a beer please)!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

No school on Wednesday

In many regions of France, nursery and primary schools follow a four day week system in which Wednesday is a no school day. When students move on to middle school (collège), they study half day on Wednesday then full day when they go to high school (lysée). This system requires a different way of organization in terms of family life.

If both parents are working, they need to find a way to take care of the kids on Wednesday. There are several options:

1. Baby sitter
Hire a baby sitter to come to your house or send your kid to her place.
In our case, our current sitter will apply for a certificate in order to take care of a preschool kid. She will have three kids under 3 years old + one preschool kid on Wednesday.

2. Local childcare center
Find a spot in local childcare center who organizes activities for kids on Wednesday.
The structure that Aelig went to every Friday afternoon is closed on Wednesday to welcome kids over 3 years old.

3. Local leisure center
Some parents enroll their kids to different kind of extra-curricular activities organized by the Town hall.

4. Grand-parents or relative
Helps from grand-parents are quite common if they are living in the same town or same area.

5. Working four days a week (4/5ème)
Parent can negotiate to work only four days a week and take off on Wednesday. Traditionally most of the people working at 80% are women but there are more and more dads join in. It seems that employers here are quite comprehensive to their employees family situation as it is not uncommon to see people working on different kind of contract conditions: 90% (4.5 days a week), 80% (4 days a week), 50% (2,5 days a week). The drawback is that it becomes more complicated in terms of planning in the working environment. For example when schedule meetings or trainings we have to try to avoid Wednesday, decisions or information requests are pending as the person in charge do not work on Wednesday...

No school on Wednesday has also created some inconveniences for parents. Many baby sitters choose not to work on Wednesday as they want to be with their own children who are off school. Some childcare centers are closed. Parents have to think of other solutions and sometimes it is not easy to find one.