Sunday, December 15, 2013

The best gift

My birthday and Christmas fall on the same month, so I get to have double gifts.

I got my birthday gift first. This year my in-laws gave me some money, and asked me to tell them what I bought.

I love reading, but all these years in France, I have never bought a Chinese book from France. I normally got them from Malaysia, our suitcases were heavy with books. Nowadays it is actually very easy to order books from Asia, the only problem is the cost. The shipping cost could be more expensive than the books themselves, that's what stops me. There is one Chinese bookstore in Paris, but they sell very limited (or outdated) selections.

The idea of ordering from Taiwan has been lingering in my mind. Several times I almost clicked the "confirm" button, with books that I so eager to read. I decided that this year I would treat myself with lots of books from an author I admire. I tried to find her books online but there were very few available. I even hoped that they could sell the kindle version, but I couldn't find it in any online bookstores.

So, I ordered 10 books on my birthday. To my surprise, just 4 days later, I got a notice that I missed a parcel. Wow, it only takes 4 days for them to deliever from Taiwan to France! Unfortunately, the distributing company they chose, DHL, does not provide good customer service, in my opinion. I followed the instruction on the notice to schedule a second delivery, I would go to pick it up, but they don't open on Saturday! Anyway, I asked them to deliver to the management office. I went to pick it up in the evening, and I was told that it was not delivered yet. Later I received a call from DHL, saying that they passed by but the management office was closed. Yes they chose to deliver during lunch hour. The woman told me that they could only delivery between 12pm and 2pm, so if I could ask someone in the management office to stay for the parcel. I told her that I have no right to stop someone from going to lunch, and she agreed.

Anyway, the second evening, I got my parcel. I was so excited! I got 6 books for myself and 4 books for Aelig. She loves them. Hubby knows that I read very fast, so he told Aelig that I would finish these books by Sunday. And how right he was, I swallowed 6 books within two evenings and a weekend.

Each book costs about 10€, about the same price for a French novel. So, I told myself, I just need to think that I'm buying books from France. Suddenly I feel so much better, and I hope I have more budget to buy books I love in the future!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

A pair of black/white shoes

During summer I bought Aelig a pair of white shoes. She chose it, I guided her to look at many other pairs, but she came back to this one.

Then came the raining season. Each time we went out, I warned her that the wet floor might dirty her shoes. Once, she wore her black shoes, but brought along the white one to her friend's house. Anyway, the shoes became muddy and dirty.

One weekend we went to pick her up from my in laws, we discovered that my MIL has painted the shoes black. I know she did it with good intention, but it just didn't look right. One week later, the black paint was gone, the shoes become ...ugly. But what do I know? When my MIL saw it, she was impressed as she thought they look great!

Nevermind, there are Aelig's shoes, so how does she feel? We told her they look ugly, hubby asked me how could I let her wear the shoes to school. Why won't I? My daughter still loves them, she says they are ugly but she likes them, she has no problem wearing them around. Anyway, I have decided that she has an image to keep at school, so she can only wear them to the sitter's place on Wednesday and during weekend.

This makes me realize how different we are in our judgment on what is beautiful and what is ugly. Also how we perceive certain colors. When Aelig wore her black shoes to Malaysia (a gift from my MIL), my mother was surprised. In Malaysia kids are associated with joy and sunshine, so we like to wear them with colorful clothes. I told my MIL about it, she said that when she went to the shoes stores for kids, black and passive colors were in the majority. True, we were hunting for some clothes for Aelig in Kiabi, we left after five minutes, it was full with black clothes / skirts with a fashion that we don't adhered. We had to go to different stores in Lorient for something more colorful.

The fashion this year in Kiabi Atlantis outlet. We just don't like it.

Black and white are the base color in the Brittany area. It is used in their flag, and in the past women used to wear in black and white. However in my culture, black and white are usually associated with mourning. When Aelig's school had their inauguration ceremony for their new building, they requested students to wear in black and white. I admit I was uncomfortable to see a sea of students in black and white, as if they were mourning for their school instead of celebrating.

I love Brittany butter cookies. The one sold in this box tasted yummy. I thought of bringing them as gifts to friends and family in Malaysia, but I hesitated for the color on the box. Surely Malaysians have been modernized with all the Western influences, for example you will see women wearing black gowns during wedding dinners. However, there remain certain people stick to the tradition, I certainly wouldn't to offend someone with a black and white cookies box.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A blessed couple

About a month ago, a friend told us, with joy, that they are expecting a second child.
Several weeks later, he left me a message and called hubby with extreme excitement, that they are not expecting one, but twins!

We are happy for them, but on the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder how are they going to handle, financially.

He just stopped working months ago, and is in the process to get an invalidity status.
She is babysitting a kid while taking care of her own two year-old.
Basically, their productive income may not exceed their rent.
And, the fact that they went through medical helps for the pregnancy, it was something planned.

Well, they are in France, he probably gets to enjoy unemployment allowance (if he was laid off).
They may get housing allowance and kid allowance too.
But, I’m not sure if these allowances are sufficient to support a family of three, soon five.

One weekend I invited them over for lunch.
And I noticed how well behaved their two year-old was. Better than my own daughter.
She tidied up the toys, she drunk plenty of water (she has not been introduced juices), she ate properly without throwing food on the floor, she obeyed her parents, there was no fussing or screaming…
And I saw the love expressing from the eyes of the parents.
At that moment, I’m glad that financial issues are not an obstacle for this couple to become parents, no matter how many they wish to have.
That’s the beauty to live in France, the privileges from a socialist system, I guess.

The same thing could rarely happened in Malaysia.
A couple who work part time  in the same case would hardly afford the medical helps for having a kid (except if they get helped from family).
A couple where one of them is unemployed would seldom dare to dream of a second child.
The unemployment help is at minima, so people won’t rely on it.
There is no housing nor child allowance.
So a couple with the same situation would most likely remain childless.

How two distinctive systems can influence the life of people living in it.

I would have to say that my friends are blessed, living in the right system, in their situation.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

The power of Work Union

In Septembre, Sephora in Champs-Elysées was ordered by the court to close its shop by 9pm in the evening. It used to open till mi-night.

In summary:
The shop's management wanted to open its shop till mi-night during weekdays, and till 1am during weekends, as 20% of the sales came after 9pm.
The employees agreed to work late into the night as it allowed them to earn more.
The Work Union, who was supposed to represent the employees, fought against this opening hour and went to court.
The court ordered that the shop would close by 9pm.
101 employees of this shop appealed, but the court maintained its verdict.

Yesterday, the 8pm news announced that Sephora's competitor, Marionnaud, has just reopened its shop after renovation in Chams-Elysées, and it will operate till mi-night.  When interviewed, an officer from the same Union said they will bring the shop to court, just like what happened to Sephora. This Union's mission is to flight against working into late hours and working on Sundays.

From these cases, I can see the power of the Union in this country, it is certainly not a market driven economy, where customers are the king. What I don't understand is that who are the Union representing, in the case where the employees disagreed with them? Does it represent the interest or the believe of the French public in general? Did the court make this decision because it believes the 101 employees didn't know what they wanted and the court and the Union should know better?

Anyway, thinking about all the rigid regulations in operating hours here, I realize I spend less when I live in France. Since I can't buy whatever I want at my convenience, I consume at the most necessary. Eating out on a Sunday? Nah, they are mostly closed anyway. Checking out Christmas gifts after work? Nah, they only open until 7:30pm, don't want to flight the crowd and get stuck in traffics. Going grocery shopping on a Saturday? Are you crazy, it would take you forever to pass through the cashier. Conclusion, our shoppings mostly involve grocery, we try to buy other stuffs online, and if I'm running out of a lotion, it can wait.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

French tolerance 2 : Destroying public properties during demonstration

We were driving home last weekend from Brittany, and we were warned that some farmers were organizing snail operation (opération escargot) on selected highway. They were protesting against the new green tax which will take place starting 1st January 2014. Basically a bunch of farmers came with their tractors with intention to slow down the traffics.

But this time the Bretons have taken it to the next level, they destroyed gantries, equipments that come with video cameras, which will screen through trucks weight more than 3,5 tons, and later send the truck owners the tax bill. Photo shows a gantry before being destroyed.

A gantry being burned. The protesters gathered some tires around the gantry's leg and burned them.

The fire-fighters putting off fires on a gantry.

They managed to destroyed 5 gantries, several speed radars, and a gate to a local Prefecture. The Prime Minister and Home Minister have urged the protesters to calm down, claiming that going on demonstration is a right granted by the constitution, but nobody should destroy public properties. I have read several articles but non mentioned that the protesters who involved in violence were captured by the police. It seems that French government is too scared to provoke more tensions.

It shocks me that destroying public properties during demonstration is tolerated. I have asked around, people would just shrug and accept that violence could be part of a demonstration. And it's true, I remember high schoolers were demonstrating by blocking school entrances and they did burn rubbish bins in public.

Now I would like to know how much all these cost the tax payers. It seems that each gantry costs more than 500k€. The green tax is now in suspension, if the government pulls off, they would have to pay million in € to the private company they appointed to collect the tax. To put an end to these demonstrations, the government has offered to negotiate, I read that they would propose 15 million Euros to compensate the farmer industry.

So this is how I interpret the whole thing : the government is trying to raise environment taxes to finance road infrastructure. Every truck that transports goods more than 3,5 tons would have to pay taxes. With the demonstrations, the government will subsidy the farmer industry with 15 million € + paying for all the repair costs. All these even out, the government would probably get nothing from this tax. It all comes down to a simple game : we propose a tax, we use the money to shut up those who protest, and we ask those who don't make noise to pay more taxes. Agree?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adjusting to French standards

     Years ago when we were living in Texas, hubby told me that in certain aspects/standards Malaysians are closer to USA compared to France. I thought he was kidding, there was no way an Asian country is closer to USA than an occidental (Caucasian) country. Now, I think he could be right.

 1. Note pad
     Several days ago I started a new note pad, and I was surprised to find the tiny square layout (left hand side on the photo above). I didn't know how to write on it, should I write within the squares, or one alphabet could be written on three line of squares... I hesitated for a while so I started looking at how people write on this type of paper. There is simply no standard, everyone writes the way they want.

     In Malaysia, after high school,  people pretty much writing on line format (like shown in the right hand side of the photo above), just like in the USA. Years ago my MIL gave me a note pad like the one on the middle of the photo, where it has a big square with three horizontal lines inside. I couldn't get used to it. I found it hard to read writings in these square formats. Wouldn't it save ton of money if note pad producers simply print papers with lines?

2. Comma vs Full stop

     In France, a comma is used as a decimal mark compared to full stop in most part of Asia and English speaking countries. So 12.34€ (twelve Euro thirty four Cents) are written as 12,34€. In my job I deal with numbers everyday, I struggled at the beginning but now it just comes by naturally. However, I have to deal with this difference frequently as it produces many mistakes.

a) When working with Excel. I have data coming from different systems, some of them are using Comma standard, the others are using Full stop. We have to use a Macro to turn all these data into the same standard. Sometimes data extraction coming from the same source changed from Comma standard to Dot standard, or someone sends me an updated file which changes all my Comma to Dot resulted in formula mistakes all over the sheet.

b) When using group reporting tools. Our group reporting tools are using the Dot standard. So we have to enter data accordingly. I have many painful experiences being trapped in situations where data entries didn't match the awaiting results just to realize that my 12,34€ has become 1234€ in the reporting system. In one tool, we have an automatic function to feed an Excel file to the system. It has a bug : all the numbers after the decimal marks disappear after loading. The support team told us that it would be too complicate to load these fraction numbers, but we can enter the numbers manually. Hah? How about entering hundred of lines of data manually?

     The map above from Wikipedia shows countries who use Comma vs countries who use Dot or Full stop. I'm surprised to learn that more countries (67) are using Comma than Dot (42). But in terms of coverage Comma standard covers 24% of the of world population, much lower than 60% coverage for the Dot standard.

     France uses AZERTY computer keyboard compare to QWERTY layout in Malaysia and in USA. I get use to the AZERTY keyboard now that I have problem switching to QWERTY layout back in Malaysia. It is easier to type those French accents : é, è, à, ç, ù (only use in one word “où” = where in French)

     Anyway, I’m surprised though to learn that only France and Belgium use this type of layout. The only issue I encounter is when I type in Mandarin using PinYin. For some reason when I switch to Mandarin (provided by Windows 7), the keyboard also switches to QWERTY mode. It is very painful to locate Q, Z, M, A, and W as what I see on the keyboard is not what is shown. I have not yet found a solution to fix it.

     I'm not complaining here, I just want to point out that as an expat I have to constantly adapt to standards practicing in my host country. It is not a problem switching to one standard, it is just painful when we have to juggle between different standards practicing in different countries.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It takes time to adapt : winter

          Over the weekend the temperature has dropped drastically : 10°C in the morning. I was freezing, am still freezing in my own apartment, as it has center heater and usually it gets turned on late October. I was told that maybe some senior citizens in the apartment complex would appeal to our syndicat so that they would turn on the heater earlier than planned.
          When I arrived in the office, I was surprised to learn that we are still in summer mode so the air conditioner is on and we have to put it to minimum. How ironic that the temperature inside the office is lower than the temperature outdoor in winter! Some coworkers wrote to our facility manager and the response : the company who handles the heating system has to come and do something, but they will not come until middle of the week because a storm was expected beginning of the week. I don’t think it is a norm here, as hubby’s office has switched to winter mode, but he knows other offices that are experiencing the same thing as us.

          Coming from a tropical country, winter is always harsh for me, but it gets better over years. My moral is still low, I have no desire to do anything, and couldn’t understand how people can claim that winter is their favorite season that they are so eager to walk outside or practice winter sports. My legs used to freeze up even with two layers of pants, but last winter a pair of jeans were enough to put me through the whole winter.
But a walk outside at 0°C with strong wind would trigger a running nose, and I get sick a lot in this season (cough, cold, running nose…).

          I’m glad that the first few years outside of my comfort zone were spent in Texas, where winter was very mild, I didn’t even have big thick coat like I own today. I hope we have center heating system like in Texas though, we just have to put it to 19°C the whole year. We can stay in the cozy apartment and not realizing the weather outdoor. I was told that heater and air conditioner work on two different systems, and maybe center heating is less ecologic, as I have not heard of it in Nantes.

          Anyway, after hearing all my whining, my friend told me that Nantes actually has nice weather in general, I should have gone to Northern part of China to experience the real winter. And in some Southern cities in China, there are no heater during winter.

         Ok, I admit I have not seen the worst, but I don’t think I would want to.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

She has two papas

We were playing outdoor when I pointed out a little girl to Aelig.
The little girl and Aelig looked and observed each other.
I continued reading my book, then I heard my daughter telling me : "Maman, she has two papas."
The little girl was entering a house, with two men.
I didn't know how to react, I wasn't expect to talk to my kid about homosexual at this young age.
So I chose the safe way : "Well, the other man is probably her uncle, just like you have a tonton (uncle in French)."

I believe what we parents tell our children will greatly sharp their belief systems in the future.
But, I feel that sometimes what I told my daughter was not entirely right.
For example, at one point, she didn't know how to differentiate between a boy and a girl.
I told her, a boy has short hair. Wrong! There are many men with long hairs these days.
I told her, a boy wears pants. Wrong again! In certain cultures boys wear skirt.
Nowadays she pretty much knows how to judge the gender of kids she encounters.
But she kind of builds up her own judgment : a girl who wears dress or skirt is beautiful, a girl who wears pants are ugly. That probably my fault : each time she wears a dress I would praise how beautiful she is, but I say nothing when she wears pants.

The other day we went to a fest-noz (Brittany dancing party). There was a dwarf dancing. She observed her for a while then asked me why that lady is so small. I told her she was a dwarf, but didn't explain further. A little while later she pointed at the dwarf and threw me the same question. I told her the same answer but I wish I can tell her something more intelligent.

I hope I now how to deal with these awkward moments, for example by coming out with answers that are humorous and educative at the same time. It comes with practices and experiences I guess.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Addressing families : France vs Malaysia

My MIL once commented that she found it horrible that I have to address my sisters by the birth order in my family. France has a long history of fighting against hierarchy in the society, she couldn't understand why we are doing this in families.

Well, I have more than one sister, so I call the eldest one "big sister", the second eldest "second sister", the third eldest "third sister" and so on. This also applies to brothers, uncles, aunties and cousins, so I have people to whom I call big uncle, small aunt (the youngest aunt), third cousin... And since in Mandarin we have distinctive words for people older or younger than you, people from parental side or maternal side,  it is easy to know the relation between two people, if they are related by blood / marriage.

In France, just like in Asia, people address parents and grandparents by their title , but for everyone else in the family they simply call them by first name or last name. It used to be very confusing for me, as when a friend introduced me to, say a cousin, I didn't know if this cousin is from the parental or maternal side, or if he is older or younger compared to my friend. And, it took me some times to accept calling my parents in law by their first name, which in my culture is considered very rude.

There is also a practice that surprises hubby and my MIL : the first thing we say when we meet someone. In France, it would start with a bonjour or salut. In my family, the younger generation has to call out to the elder generation by their "title". For example when I go to my sister's house, my nieces and nephews have to call me "bei yi" (last aunt in Hokkien). And I have to call out to my sister and my brother in laws because they are older than me. Well, how about hubby? He gets to have special treatment as everyone calls him by his first name, else he would be called "bei yi tiung" (last aunt's husband in Hokkien).

When I was a kid, whenever we went to visit someone, my mother would make sure that I addressed everyone in the house (aunt or uncle if not blood/marriage related) before I was allowed to go. Naturally, I try to train Aelig to do the same. But I forgot that in France they don't practice the same things! When Aelig went to visit my office for the first time, I introduced one of my coworkers to her by saying : this is tonton M (uncle M). This coworker immediately laughed hearing me addressing him as tonton (uncle in French). Later he told me that only his siblings kids would call him tonton in France. You just don't go out and call everyone older than you tonton or tata (aunt in French). I was very embarrassed.

Back to my MIL's comment. I was surprised on how she feels about it. I actually love the way I call my sisters very much. Example, let's say my sister's name is Marie, and I tell people that I went shopping with Marie, this could be any Marie, nothing so special. But if I say I go out with my big sister, that's special, because in the whole wide world, I have only one big sister. Besides, elder sisters would usually take good care of their younger sisters.

From my observation, France has its unique practice as well in addressing family members. It goes back to the confusing vous (polite form of you) vs tu (informal form of you). When I asked my French professor how should I address my MIL, she said she would never use "tu" as it is impolite. When I arrived in France, my MIL was disappointed when I use "tu" with her as she thought that I wanted to keep distance between us. So now I use "tu" with everyone in the family, including the grandmothers, to show that I want to be close to them. And then I notice a weird phenomena : everyone in the family would use "tu" with each other except the son in laws. The son in laws use "vous" when calling their MIL. Are they trying to keep distance? How about the neighbors? I feel so close to them so I use "tu" with them but everyone in my French family use "vous" with them. That's something hubby couldn't really explain, just like I couldn't explain to him why Chinese bothered themselves with so many kinship terms to address different family members.

For those who are interested, you can watch a Youtube video about Chinese Family Tree here:

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Going to school with a snail

The school is teaching about Autumn so they asked the students to bring something related to this theme. It also mentioned that if during a walk you find a snail, bring it to school!

So, this poor snail was spotted and taken home by the father and daughter. I gave them an empty cheese box to create a warm home for it. Even though it has holes on the cover, I still left a tiny space between the cover and the bottom part just in case. Guess what? The snail went missing the second morning. However, it didn't escape its fate as it was spotted again and placed in the box. And now it is sitting inside a small aquarium, being shown to the kids with a bunch of its mates.

Personally I would have preferred to bring leaves or a book about Autumn to school then a living animal. I believe every animal has the right to live in harmony with everyone else and not being disturbed. I always tell Aelig to leave those flowers alone so that they could be with their "family members" instead of going to some stranger's home and die.

In case someone is curious, we do not eat snail at home.

Poor thing, I hope the school teaches the kids to not "abuse" the snails in their class.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Going to work with the little girl

It seems that Family Day has become an annual event in my company. They organized it again this year, on a Wednesday afternoon when kids are off school. When I told her about it, she immediately shouted : "Yes, I want to go to work with mummy!"

On the way to my office, to my surprise, she yelled "I have been here!". I'm not sure if she really remembered that she had been here last year, but hubby was convinced. We went to every offices and said "bonjour" to most of my coworkers. She was shy at the beginning but was greeting everyone later.

And then it came the highlight for kids : the snack time! She asked for drinks and cookies, and had no shame to ask for candies later.

We then went to my new office and met up with coworkers who did not work on Wednesday (so that they can take care of their kids at home), but decided to come in to show their kids around. Coincidently one kid was born on the same date as her but a year younger, who was as tall as the little girl. Ok everyone agreed that she is short compare to average kids in France, she has certainly got my gene on this.

We then lingered around my desk while I was checking emails. She ran around looking at people, everyone was kind to her. When I suggested that we should leave for home, she protested :"but I like here!". And then she asked:" Will your boss pay me since I'm working here?". Lol.

Here is the little girl who sat in the parking lot refusing to go home. I guess she had fun.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bilingual road : Learning at her own pace

I was chatting with my coworker about kids. I was telling her my worries about my daughter's seemingly weak command in French compared to kids her age. She suggested that I should start speaking French and Mandarin at the sometimes with my daughter. She couldn't understand how a family can function like ours, where three languages were practiced at the same time at home.

Well, there were times that I have doubts about what we were doing.

The initial plan was that I take care of Mandarin and hubby takes care of French. One thing I didn't that into consideration was that a mother naturally interacts / handles more things with her child than a father. The outcome was that the little angel prefered to speak Mandarin than French, as she knew more vocabularies in Mandarin. We spent time together singing, reading and chatting in Mandarin. And then I wondered if I have put her in disadvantages compare to her pals at school.

1. At school while kids were singing songs that they have probably heard at home, she learned about them for the first time. Well, she did know a couple of French songs but not extensively.
2. She might not be familiar with instructions in French (while doing craft, drawing...).
3. During story telling times she might not understand much compare to her pals due to her weak vocabularies.

I suspected that these have made her behaved reservedly in classroom. While kids in her classroom started to form groups, she didn't belong to any and would usually play with boys or older kids. Her teacher used to tell me that she didn't speak much at class and sometimes didn't understand her instructions. Her after school carer told me that she was a quiet girl. I noticed that she spoke less fluently in French compared to kids her age.

And then this coworker told me: "Well, according to the National Education guideline, a kid that has finished the first year of Kindergarten should recognize 1 to 5. Does she know this?" The true is no. Yes, after one full year of school, she doesn't read 1 to 5. Another fact is that she doesn't know A to Z either. I'm restraining myself to teach her alphabet because I don't think I pronounce them correctly in French. I thought she would pick all these up at school. The coworker continued : "Some days I asked my daughter whether she had to work a lot at school, she told me no they were playing all days. The fact is, she was learning a lot but she thought it was games. They have a talented teacher who knows how to make learning fun, we are very lucky." I hope Aelig will meet a similar teacher, her current one has 33 kids to take care of, not sure if she could handle it.

At that point, I had all these questions to myself:
Should I change the method and start conversing with her in Mandarin and French?
Should I start teaching her writing and reading, even in Mandarin, even though kids here do these formally the first year they are in primary school?

In fact, kids in Malaysia start reading and writing since they enter kindergarten. They have dictations and small tests. I believe kids are capable of doing these before they turn 6. But I do ask myself what the rush? She still have a lot of time to learn. I started learning writing and reading when I was 7.

Before making any decisions, I decided to talk to her teachers. To my relief, her second year teacher thinks that she speaks well and blend in without problem with her classmates. Her after-school carer (the same one from last year) told me that she has improved a lot in term of expressions. And she eats well in the canteen. What a great news!

Now, we will continue the three languages practice at home (she doesn't speak English, she just tries to imitate us sometimes). And, I want to make learning a fun game for her. No pressure, she learns it at her own pace.

Teaching her how to write one to five.

She decides which exercise books she wants to "draw" with. Sometimes she writes a word, I write another one. She doesn't do it everyday.Well, learning is a lifelong process, way to go!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Her feminine side

I caught her applying lipbalm and perfume before going to school.
She insisted to wear only skirt.
To not dirty her white dancing shoes, she wore the black one out, then changed into the white one when arriving in her friend's house. She doesn't want to wear crocs anymore.
She plays with necklace and wristband.
She wants me to tie her hairs the way she wants.

Where did she get all these from? Certainly not from me. I do not do anything she does above.

"From my mum." I heard hubby replied.

Oh, indeed. My MIL did offer those accessories including a pair of ear rings to my daughter.
But, she is not the only one. The sitter gave her perfume as Christmas present.
All these are not a problem, I just feel weird seeing a three-year-old wearing perfume. Isn't it too early?
And, her winter clothes are mostly consisted of pants. Among the limited skirts I bought / passed down from her cousins, some are not allowed to wear to school, too bitchy according to hubby (such as the one in the photo above). So, we have had little scenes in the mornings as she wanted only skirt and I had nothing to offer her.

And, she got so tanned after one month with her grand-parents, with lots of time spent boating.
I grew up believing fair skin is the king. We even have a saying "fair skin hides aways many flaws".
I can hear my mother complains "oh no why got so tanned she is as black as a charcoal!"
Each time I see her tanned skin I just tell myself what a waste! She used to have glowy and smooth skin.
Maybe it will come back after winter.