Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas the traditional way

I was just telling everyone that I wouldn't have a Christmas tree at home, just like every year, but then the day after I heard myself telling hubby to go get one. With Aelig in tow I realized I get dragged into following most of the Christmas traditions.

I changed my mind about the Christmas tree because her school held an activity decorating the tree, and they gave an ornament to every kid so that they could attach it to their own one at home. She also helped her sitter settling up hers. So, when we got the tree from a grocery trip, I took out our ornaments set and the Christmas crèche to let her play with it.

The advent calender for me is pure commercial plot targeting children. Hubby bought one and I didn't protest. One or two chocolates per day is ok plus it creates bonding moments for father and daughter. Besides, she is among the few ones that get to have a calender counting towards her birthday.

We went to the Christmas market several times and each time she got to ride in the "manége", the amusement rides. The Town Hall was kind enough to set up a free one the weekend before Christmas, so she got to play unlimited times.

Meeting Santa Claus. She was screaming when she saw him appearing in the living room. We were vacationing in the mountain, the chalet owner had the kindness to accept playing the role. It is our family tradition to have Santa Clause on Christmas eve. So, there was no such thing as preparing some cookies and a glass of milk for the Santa before going to bed and discovering presents in the morning of Christmas.

Having fun discovering all her presents.

Another family tradition: having capon on the Christmas day. My father in laws' signature dish, best eaten with his chestnut dish. Anyway, I was a bit disappointed as this year everyone got to serve white meat (boneless part), which is considered the best part. But for me, white meat has simply no taste, I prefer wings or drumsticks.

From time to time, my in laws organize a week of vacation somewhere else during the Christmas holiday. This year we went to the Mountain. The chalet was located in a hill facing the valley with breath taking views. Aelig got to feed the horses. Sometimes she decided to eat outside, looking at the horses, despite the windy weather.

Walking in the snow suited her well.

I hope all these traditions would become memorable moments during her childhood, something she could reminisce when she grows up.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Company Christmas party

Every year end my company organizes a Christmas party for their employees and family. It started at 5pm, so I asked Aelig to take a nap before going. She didn't want to and was playing around, so I told her that since she was naughty, she would not get to see Santa and get a gift this year. Hearing this threat, she went to bed quietly.

So, at 5pm, she was all ready to meet Santa. The party started with a magic show that lasted for around an hour. It was an excellent show that got all the attentions from the kids. The magician threw candies to kids from time to time so the kids were all glued to the stage waiting for the moment.

The highlight of the show was when Santa appeared from an empty box. Aelig was yelling "papa noël" with an exciting tone.

Everyone was queuing to take photo with Santa. The organizer was distributing a bag to every kid attended the event.

Aelig checking out the bag, it has a bag of chocolate plus a duckling. Some kids got a bag of chocolate plus a special gift, which allowed them to sit around the magician and learn to practice magic using the gift.

Santa running out of business when everyone got their photo. The party continued with buffet dinner for adults and kids. They even had oysters, we were really impressed. Dessert was chocolate fondue and some typical French pastry. Macaron was the most popular one, it was out within a minute. The organizer also prepared a separated room with activities for kids. There was a person making balloons in different shapes, a beautician giving makeup to kids, a place to play card games and lego, and lots of room to run around. When the kids got occupied with all these activities, the adults got to enjoy the party. Aelig was playing the whole evening with others instead of sticking to us. Later in the evening a DJ appeared to annouce the beginning of the dancing part, so kids and adults were dancing on the same floor.The magician continued his show in small group.

Overall we felt that it was very well organized. Aelig enjoyed herself very much and asked us for more. So I think we will participate again next year.

The language choices

"We wish you a mauli Crisma, we wish you a mauli Crisma, we wish you a mauli Crisma, and a Happy to you."

This is how Aelig sings the song.
We are in the Christmas mood so we have been exposing Aelig to Christmas carols. It makes us laugh to hear her singing "mauli Crisma", and I shared this with my coworker.
He looked at me, and said: "When are you going to teach your kid something French?"
I was a bit surprised. I told him that hubby is the one responsible to teach Aelig French. Well, hubby uploaded many Christmas carols in English for us as he likes the joyful and festive ambiances in these songs.  As for me, I didn't teach Aelig any Christmas song in Mandarin because I don't know them. I was not exposed to them when I was a kid.

Anyway, I don't think we need to justify anything to anyone. This is our decision and we just want the best for our kid. However, I do want to share why we chose these languages.

Even before Aelig was born, we have decided to separate the job: hubby would teach her French and I would teach her mandarin. It was a total no brainer for French, since she is French. I chose Mandarin because it is my mother tongue. There were questions raised about this choice, I will share about this in another post.

The hard part was English. This was the language we spoke when we met, and we chose to continue to use it among us so that we won't lose it. We decided to let Aelig learns it herself when she goes to primary school, but something came up which made me had doubt about our choice.

We were in Krabi, Thailand, a place which do not understand either French or Mandarin. There was a safari room where you can drop your kid for several hours while running your errands. Aelig went to play there sometimes. At one point, she was with several kids, some from Singapore who spoke in English. They were all playing one two three jump to an area full of balls. A little girl commanded one two three, everyone jumped except Aelig. She looked lost because she didn't understand the command. I decided that it may be time to teach her some basic English. So, I added English songs, DVD and Youtube clips to her entertainment times.

And the result, now she knows how to count in three languages:
Mandarin: from 1 to 20, going towards 30
French: from 1 to 10, going towards 15
English: from 1 to 10

She is probably slower than other kids her age but I think she will get there eventually. Let's see.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Run run run

Last weekend hubby participated in a 30km cross country running. He was very courageous as the weather was freezing and it was raining at the beginning of the race. We formed a team with Aelig and several of his friends to cheer him up.
I taught Aelig the word "加油", literally means "add oil" in Chinese to support her daddy. So throughout the race we were shouting "加油", "allez allez" (go on in French).

We waited at different locations for hubby and once he passed, we moved to the next spot waiting for him. Photo shows Aelig cheering for her daddy.

I don't remember how many stops we waited to cheer him, but removing and attaching Aelig to the car seat was quite painful, luckily I was not alone and our friend did most of the job. Photo shows Aelig running towards her dad but hubby avoided her as he wanted to continue the race/pace.

Arriving at the finish line. Welcome by his daughter.

So proud of him.

See all the muds stuck to his shoes. The organizers prepared some water pipes for the runners to wash up their shoes.

Thanks to everyone who sacrificed their Sunday morning and helped motivate hubby to arrive at the finish line. Hubby said that seeing us cheering for him had boosted his spirit and encouraged him enormously. Due to the weather condition and the distance, there were not many people / villagers coming out to cheer up the runners.

Information for Malaysians intending to get PACSed in France

From time to time I get asked about procedure to get PACSed in France. Pacs (Pacte Civil de Solidarité) is a way of giving a couple (homosexual or straight) the similar rights or benefits to those given to married couples. Since I had never done it I couldn't provide much helps, but there are two documents that are required for both Pacs and marriage: certificat de coutume and certificat de celibat. I had them for my wedding so I know how tedious the process is. For information certificat de coutume is a document stating that every Malaysian reaches majority at the age of 21 and from there on is free to get married to anyone without needing consent from his / her family or anyone else.

The problem is, Malaysia doesn't recognize Pacs so the Embassy doesn't want to provide the certificat de coutume to the applicants. It becomes a tricky situation as this document is one of the many papers required in order to get Pacsed. I'm not sure if the French government officers are going to carry on the application process without this. From what I heard, some people simply gave up, or chose to get married. But recently, I got known to this one woman who fought the battle and managed to find a solution. She did get pacs without these two documents! Please read her story here with a detail explanation on the required documents and procedures.

From my experiences dealing with the French administrations, sometimes they do accept certain explanations since every country has different rules / ways / procedures in handling paperworks. Here are two to share:
1. While gathering documents to get married, I told the Town Hall that unlike France, Malaysia issues one birth certificate for life. The officer accepted the translated copy of my birth certificate issued since I was born.
2. While exchanging my driver's license, the officer accepted the original copy even though in the instruction it was stated that "translation required". Well, the Malay language uses the same alphabetic and numerical system, most of the information was pretty much identical in French.

Ok, they might not be as lenient as before, but, never say never, try negotiate. :-)