Saturday, July 19, 2014

They don't drink water

My family in Malaysia emphasis a lot in drinking water. Since the weather is hot and humid there, we need to make sure we drink enough to keep ourselves hydrated. By drinking water I mean pure lukewarm water, not soda or fruit juices. Kids bring their own bottle to school. Some adults have a bottle in the car. The water has to be boiled or filtered before drinking though.

Things are very different in France. I know of some people who do not drink pure water. They drink coffees, tea, soft drinks, juices or wines. And they insist that these are sufficient. Some also think that lukewarm water is not healthy for the body, so they drink cold water.

I didn't know that we could get by water. In my city we could drink water directly from the tap, so it is easy and convenient. In cities where it is not advisable to drink directly from the tap, people buy mineral water, they are quite cheap in general.

Here is a bottle of water provided by the maternity ward, targeting at new mother. I got one everyday (1.5L).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

She will be retired at 42 in France, and us?

One day a friend told me that one of her acquaintances will be retired next year, when she turns 42 years old. I was like, how is it possible? She is only several years older than me, but she will be retiring next year, whereas for me in 30 years?

Well, retirement is a sensitive topic in France, so my friend is not going to ask this person how does she manage to get off so early, but instead we analyse the situation and come out with three facts that would entitle her to early retirement:

1. Working in one of the x-government control companies (eg SNCF, France Telecom, EDF, La Poste...). These companies used to own by the government and since then have been privatized, but the government still own important shares and controls in them. They have one common point : good benefits for their employees such as earlier retirement than other public and private companies.

2. She has three kids. During my MIL's time, each kid entitles the women to get off 2 years earlier for retirement. So having three kids entitles her to get off 6 years earlier, and the fact that she works with x-government own company may amplifier this entitlement.

3. She used to work in the nuclear industry. Since it is considered as high risk industry, each trimester she worked may account for more, for example 1 trimester = 1 year.

We don't know if our analysis are close to the reality, but just to point out that retirement is not always a fair game in France. It really depends on which company, which industry and which benefit package you are enjoying. I once read a Brit's blog, he started working in France in his 40s, so he said by the time he retires, he would be working for 20++ years in France, and the fact that he needs to work 40++ years to get full retirement, he will eventually get nothing. Yes, the more working trimesters you owe, the more percentage your pension gets deducted.

The national motto of France is Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Sometimes I wonder which equality are we talking about. Equality for the poor? The rich? Or just for certain group of people?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Crow's beak 乌鸦嘴

I'm usually not superstitious but there is one thing I do believe is the existence of crow's beak in Chinese culture, equivalent to jinx in English.

Crow's beak, or  乌鸦嘴 in Mandarin refers to someone who says something bad and that bad thing would happen, or in my case, someone who says nice thing about something, but thing turns out bad.

I remember my mother told me a scene when my sister was born. She was a crying baby, she cried so much that everyone was so tired of her cries. One day, unexpectedly, she was quiet and just played peacefully in her sarong cradle. Someone came and commented : "Look at her, she doesn't cry today, she is such a nice girl!" And that ended the peaceful moment. She was even crankier than before.

I have told hubby many times about this superstitious. Of course he doesn't believe it. He continues to make comment about how nice Aelig behaves or how nice things turn out. I usually keep my mouth shut. Sometimes things turned out bad but sometimes not.

The first few days when Awena was in the maternity ward, he made those kind of comments again.
"Look, she sleeps the whole day! She is a lot easier than Aelig!"
"See, she is sleeping again!"
"Ah, we hardly hear her!" Then he proceeded to pick up the baby as when he was there she was sleeping most of the time.

I sealed my lips and didn't want to response. It sounded stupid, but if you had baby like Aelig, you would wish to not repeat the same sleeping drama for your second kid.

So how does Awena turn out?
Starting from the second or third night she was a crying baby.
The first night she was home, she slept in our room. Husband's reply the second morning after my question of how was your night : hell.
Yes, she has set up her own rule : no nipple = no sleeping at night. The second day she was home I thought about giving up breastfeeding.
Sometimes I just let her cry after making sure that she is fed, her diaper is clean, she burped. She could cry from her hung for a good 30 minutes.

So, don't blame me if I don't praise your kids or just shut up when you ask me how my kids behave. I would prefer to look stupid than extending the sleeping deprived phase.