Monday, December 28, 2015

How about a 3€ angpow (red envelope)?

I used to loathe about Christmas preparations. What do we offer to the family members? What do they like? What do they want? And I got to ask the same questions from people who want to offer me gifts. Kids are easy, I bought the gifts in November. But how about the adults? I always thought that the Chinese tradition of offering angpow (red envelope with money stuffed inside) is a much easier and practical way. People just go buy whatever they like, or save it.

But, over the years, I start to understand the meaning behind it. Surely, it is a huge commercial campaign, sometimes you just buy because you have to, not because that person really needs it. However, it could also be a time you share somethings you like with a person (like a book, a CD...), or offering a trip to a place you have been to. Plus, a coworker told me a fact that was so true : you could offer a 3€ book as gift, but if you put 3€ cash or a cheque in an envelope, it would seem so...worthless. Giving out money represents overall a bigger budget than giving out in gifts.

Anyway, I still loathe about Christmas and all the works associated with, but this year, I couldn't help but eagerly waiting for it to arrive. I love the scene where family gathers around the warm fireplace, drinking champagne, openning gifts, nibbing on food... and working on photobooks and calendars till wee hours so that it could be delivered before Christmas, is part of my Christmas tradition now. I love to see people flipping through pages of photos I chose, remembering what we have done over the years, and it is work I put in that couldn't be valued by money.

Still, I feel that my girls were overflooded with gifts, see how much presents Santa brought us this year! We just kept opening from one gift to another that we didn't have time to appreciate, or even take note of who's who bought / prepared them for us (Santa got all the credits anyway).

I think we should probably limit to one gift / person, the kids are happy to be involved in other stuffs, like decorating the table.

 Or covering the cake with Christmas theme decor.

A 3€ book could please her for a while, she would be puzzled if she got 3€ in coins.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The cursive handwriting

Hubby's family are big in letters, so we still received them from time to time. His grandmothers send us religiously a birthday card for all our birthdays, sometimes including their fête. They send us postcards when they are on holidays.

I love receiving letters and postcards but the problem is, their handwritings are indecipherable, for me. All of them write in cursive and I have hard time understanding them. I learnt cursive writing in art classes, I remember we had to buy a special pen and use it to write connected letters during several art classes.

Here an example of a letter from the family. I never quite understand why my French family chose to write in cursive which makes my head spins each time I read it.

Now that my daughter goes to standard one, I'm seeing her learning to write in cursive everyday. So it is a norm in France! French learn to write in cursive since young age and they continue it into their adulthood. My daughter is learning to write in Uppercase, Lowercase and Cursive (script) in school. And now when she writes a sentence, every alphabet is connected.

 One of her homeworks was to write her name in Uppercase and in script.

She got a letter from a schoolmate, the last sentence was written in cursive.

Hubby was the only in her family that writes in print instead of cursive. He explained that his teachers found that he wrote badly in cursive and advised him to write exclusively in print. No wonder I can understand his writing!

PS: I was checking out why France still implement cursive handwriting in school and realised that it is a tradition back to the quill time. By connecting all the alphabets, it would improve writing speed and it would require less hand lifting. However, this is less practiced in US and UK now, some schools have stopped completely teaching cursive to their students.

The world's aisle

When I go for grocery shopping, I would sometimes check out "The World" aisle. It displays the typical Asian foods (instant noodles, sauces, rice, coconut milks), Mexican foods, African foods... I would quickly browse through the Asian section, but what I usually buy are from the British and American section. Yes, I didn't realise Malaysians are influenced in some way by the British : Jacob's crackers, Marmite, Marie biscuit, pudding, peanut butter. And, I got Dr Pepper softdrink for Hubby (influenced by our time in Austin TX).

Marmite is one kind of yeast extra. I grew up eating rice porridge with soya sauce or Marmite. It has a weird taste but I grew to love it. After I moved to France, I didn't eat it for a while, until I found online that it was sold in an Irish shop in downtown Nantes. Now they even have it in some traditional French supermarkets. French in general have not heard of it or couldn't believe that people are eating it. Yes, once a coworker mentioned that his friend from Australia was spreading Marmite on his sandwiches, he couldn't stand the smell so didn't even take a bit.

As of crackers, French generally spread something on crackers and serve them during apéro. Malaysians dip crackers into milo (chocolat drink) as breakfast, I'm not sure French can accept it.

How about pudding? Have not seen pudding being served in any typical French household. Hubby doesn't like pudding nor agar-agar (a popular dessert in Malaysia).

My kids love crackers and Marie biscuit. I haven't let them tried Marmite (ok I found spreading Marmite on a sandwich weird too). Aelig accepted agar agar in Malaysia. Hubby does eat crackers. He learnts to eat British food from a Malaysian. lol

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When the dam is drained (Lac de Guerlédan)

Hubby has been telling me that we need to go visit a lake (served as a dam) that is emptied due to maintenance. I was not very enthusiasm on the idea, what was there to see an emptied lake?

But when I set my feet into the lake area, I was more than impressed, I was overwhelmed by its beauty.

Here is the Lake of Guerledan in Brittany.

When the dam is at its full operation, water would cover till where the forest stands.

Stones after years being underwater. Fishes were transfered to other places before the water slowly being drained.
There were houses buried under water for a long time. They all turned black color.

Rocky hills with tunnels.
These rocks were usually covered by water, I'm not sure if this is their natural color.

Grasses grew where the was no more water.

A breathtaking view.

The drainage milestone
March and April 2015 : Progressivement lower the water level of the lake
From mid Mai to October 2015 : Lake drained, guided visits
Starting from November 2015 : Naturally filling up the lake
Beginning of 2016 : Hydro-electrical center back to service

It was Sunday and there were many visitors at all ages. This makes me feel that banning working on Sundays might be a good thing. Instead of running errands like doing grocery shopping or shopping the whole day in a Mall, people get to do something different.

For those who are interested to visit this Lake, you have until 31 Oct.
Here is the link for more information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Where is the swimming bag!

The swimming classes are held during the weekday, hubby handles the sending and fetching.

One evening he had to go to the teachers - parents meeting, so he sent Aelig to the swimming pool, and I was going to fetch her back.

When I arrived with Awena in tow, I quickly checked through the lockers so I can grab the towel from the swimming bag. I looked for two minutes and still couldn't find it, although hubby had told me that I won't miss it. I rushed to get Aelig, all wet in her swim suit, then spent another 10 minutes looking through every lockers. I left my phone in the car so I had to go pick it up through the rain. I phoned hubby but he was unavailable, and Aelig didn't remember where her dad put the bag.

After all that mess, I suddenly thought of a possibility : would the bag in the male changing room? Aelig suddenly remembered : it was in the boy's room! We rushed to the boy's room and we immediately found the bag.

Ok, I have two daughters so I never have the problem to bring my kids to toilet or bathroom. I had never thought of it would be a complete issue for hubby. Bringing his daughter to a room full of girls, showering and changing into their swimsuits, what were I thinking? He would be considered a pedophile! Not easy to be a dad if you only have daughters.

And this might not only concern dads with daughters. I was in the swimming pools and after a training session, the trainer dismissed the students. One boy was moving towards the girls' changing room but the trainer asked him to go to the boys'. He protested : "but my mother is coming to pick me up, she is waiting for me in the girls' changing room!" Ok, so we have girls and boys taking shower (with swim suit on) together. Not easy also for mothers with boys.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Swimming pool and love at first sight

Aelig loves to go to the swimming pool, so I had been wanting to enroll her to swimming classes. Unfortunately I'm someone who is not very up to date on enrollement dates, so I missed the pre-enrollment day. By chatting with my coworker I realized that she had enrolled both her girls, while I would have to fight with a bunch of people on a Wednesday afternoon. She advised me to arrive 45 minutes early in order to secure a place.

Well, I was not keen on queuing for such a long time in advance as Awena would get bored and complained. So we arrived 15 minutes before they started accepting enrollment. There was a long line outside the registration place, I was given #47. We all wondered if there would be enough place for all of us, seeing that more and more people arriving. There was a pregnant woman coming with a foldable chair. Some moms knew each other so they were gossiping about schools, teachers, activities for kids....

The registration started at 2pm. People rushed inside the gym to form another queue. We were told to go inside the swimming pool in order for the trainers to see which level they should put our kids in. We went into changing room, parents and kids were packed along the corridor. Trainers called out numbers, so there was no use to rush actually. I put Awena inside a baby carrier, she was curious and tried to get free. Aelig was proud to be able to walk from one end to the other in the swimming pool, as expected she was put into the beginner class.

Once the level testing was done, we headed back to the gym to submit all kind of documents : registration form, medical certificate, a check for the whole season, proof of our income group (you pay the fee according to your family income group), proof of our current address. We waited for at least one hour there. The gym was packed with kids so I let Awena out to play with them.

And then I met the boy, and his mother. Apparently he was one of Aelig's boyfriends. They were there for the registration too, so I chatted with the mother. She told me that her boy likes Aelig a lot, and it was love at first sight. She suggested that we choose the same time slot so that they kids can swim together. I agreed to her suggestion.

Now, the little girl is happy to go to the swimming pool after school once a week. The hard part being that she has homework in the evening and she is not keen on doing them. So, after a long day (school + swimming class), there would be dragging, threathening, yelling, crying. How I wish Wednesdays are still no school day (she has class on Wednesday mornings since sept)! At least she could stay later on Tuesday night.

Anyhow, this episod just made me realise that the "kiasu spirit" (afraid to lose in Malaysian language), exists as well in France, at least where I'm. Moms were fighting for a spot for their love one. I hope all the kids enjoy and appreciate the classes after all the hard work their moms put in. :-)

PS : Most of the public swimming pools are run by the local Town Hall. It offers relatively affordable price, that's why swimming lessons are one of the popular after school activities.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The unlayoffable

Two weeks ago there was this news reporting that for 12 years, a French railway  (SNCF) employee was getting paid 5400€ monthly, even though he was sitting at home waiting for his new assignement. He now claimed a 500000€ compensation as his career life was ruined. Apparently, he was put into cupboard after disclosing a fraudful pratice in the company.

Over the years, I have worked with several ex-government turned private companies including SNCF. It seems that some employees in these companies have a special status that make them unlayoffable, or the layoff process is tedious and time consuming. It creates an okward situation when there are no suitable positions for some of them as the skills set required change. Instead of laying them off and let them venture into other career opportunities, these companies have to or choose to keep them, thus putting them into projects without clear job descriptions. Just imagine, you are working with these companies and you are at a meeting where one member just keep disrupting the discussions, or just keep quiet as nobody knows why he or she was there. Some of them tried very hard to catch up, to integrate into the new teams, while some of them just dropped out, feeling discouraged, or even lost their selfworth in the new organisations.

And, from what I heard, civil servants in France are unlayoffable, it is a lifelong employment contract.

As for the private companies, it depends on the sectors. I heard that some sectors layoff easily, for example in the construction. Some private companies prefer to not layoff their employees, even though they arrive late, sleeping during working hours, take long lunch break...and some know how to protect themselves : they become the délégue personnel (Elected employee representatif). If you layoff employees with this status, changes are you will lost if he or she sues you in the Labor Court.

Recently, I heard some people mentioned about "rupture conventionnelle", where employee employer come to agreements so that the employee will leave the company. It is not considered a layoff, nor a resignation, but both parties wanted to be separated. With this, the employee walks away with a severance package (sometimes amounted to several months or years of salaries), and since it was not a resignation, the employee could enjoy unemployment benefits. Employers use this to:
1. Get rid of employees who were under-performend, this could avoid going through the Labor Court
2. Get rid of those with high salaries and close to retirement. A win-win situation for both : employer got rid of the older employees so that they could lower their labor costs, while employee got to enjoy early retirement while being paid the same or almost the same.
3. Get rid of employees who were not motivated. I know of real cases of those who slept during working hours, refused job assignments, they managed to negotiate a severance package before leaving.

Coming from a capitalist country where under-performed employees are fired, it was difficult to accept that the incompetent coworkers or unprofessional behaviors could be tolerated in companies. With the rigid layoff process, it was a challenge for companies to go through reform even though they might be in financial difficulties. It was a vicious cycle : companies do not recruite easily due to the inflexibility in laying off people in case business going down; employees find it difficult to find other jobs thus prefer to stay put in the same job even though it might not please them.

As for this SNCF employee who sat at home for 12 years doing nothing but still received his paycheck every month, surely his career life was ruined. I presume he did try to find other job, but he probably didn't find any that would give him the same salary and benefits. These semi private semi public companies often offer abundant of paid vacations, interesting working hours and attractive retirement schemes. He actually has the courage to disclose his situation to the world, some in his shoes would maintain it until retirement.

What would you do if you were him?

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Why French women don't buy Louis Vuitton

I do not know of any French woman who owns a Louis Vuitton bag.
I seldom see anyone carrying one in the streets where I live, except in Paris, where tourists are everywhere at anytime.
I wonder why?

Yesterday I thought of these reasons:
1. French women do not get invited to wedding dinners as often as Malaysians or Asians in general. In Malaysia, you invite everyone to your wedding, including those that you have not seen in years. But in France, weddings are for close friends and relatives. And weddings, are time to show off in Malaysia, so every lady dresses up with luxury accessorries. And LV bags are seen often. So, less wedding invitations = less show off opportunities = less need for LV bags.

2. In general, French separate their work life and social life. In this case, you do not need to bring your girlfriend / wife to company gatherings. Less gatherings = less show off opportunities = less need for LV bags.

3. In general, French women are financial independent, they do not have the mentality to marry rich in order to get the golden bowl for the rest of their life. French men buy small gifts, romantic activites to win the heart of their girlfriends. And, French women could be the one taking the step when they are interested in someone. So, there is no need to buy LV bags to show that you are genuine in the relationship.

4. French women do a lot of sport. They bike, they run, they go hiking, they swim...It goes better with a backpack than a LV bag in these situations.

5. The most importantly, showing off is not in the mentality in general in France. Less showing off = less need for LV bags.

There are of course exception.

Going for a trip. See if I can think of more reasons. Have a nice weekend!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer camp around a Castle

Last summer I read on our community newsletter that they were having a summer camp for kids of 4-6 years old. I immediately contacted the Town Hall, but I was told that all camps were fully booked.

Around March this year, a friend told me that the Town Hall was organizing different activities for kids and we could get all the information during an exhibition in a castle. We went there to check out, and Aelig was intrigued by the camping coordinators who dressed as a queen, a fairy, a knight and an elf (lutin). So, on a Saturday morning, hubby set his alarm clock to make sure he woke up on time to enroll Aelig to this camp, as we were told that the spot would be gone within the first 20 minutes. The enrollment went through, Aelig was going to her first summer camp.

We chose the first week of July for her camp, right after her summer holidays started. We brief her about the camp, she realized little by little that she was going to sleep in a tent with people that she didn't know. But, she was brave, she didn't protest. So off we go. On Monday and Tuesday, she got introduced to new friends and got used to the new environment. She still came home in the evening.

Starting from Wednesday, she slept in the tent, we only picked her up on Friday evening. On Thursday morning, we got an email from the organiser, who gave us some news of what was going on in the camp.

Friday evening, we went to pick her up. Her first reaction was crying in hubby's arms. After hugging us, she calmed down and started showing us what she did.

We were invited to a performance where some of the kids (total 18 of them) describing what they did during the one week camp. They drew castle, forest, tent, queen, elf and knight to show us the adventure they went through.

Before we left, Aelig was surrounded by her new friends. They hugged her and said goodbye.

Overall, it was a good experience, for us and for Aelig. I was worried that she would be scared to participate in this camp since she knew nobody. Most of the kids enrolled with their friends and asked to sleep in the same tent. But, she did well, and she enjoyed it as she was so excited she wanted to join the camp again. Well, 120€ well spent.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

School year end performance : The Little Prince

The last Saturday of Jun, we went for Aelig's school year-end festival. I learnt that if it is a private catholic school, it is called "Kermesse", and if it is a public school, it is called "la fête de l'école", meaning the school festival. These year-end festivals are meant to mark the end of school year while raising some money to finance the school activities including field trips.

Around March, the kids started having rehearsal for their stage performance. This year, the dances were designed around the theme "The Little Prince". It is such a clever idea, as the film will be released this summer, now parents could tell their kids that the film is related to their stage performance.

The woman raising her right arm was the dance teacher. She designed all the dances and the costumes. Not very school has the budget to hire a dance teacher, some schools have their teachers handling the performance. In the photo, the kids dressed as The Little Prince, with green shirt and orange scarf (in our book at home The Little Prince is more wearing a yellow scarf than an orange one, maybe every book is different?).

 Then come the pilot.

 This is the scene where The Little Prince asks the pilot "Please draw me a sheep?"

His rose. While these roses were beautiful, it was painful for the kids who had them around their head.

 The Little Prince ventured outside of his planet, he met the king.

Aelig's class was splitted into two groups: one as snake and one as fox. She was in the snake group. She already showed us her dance at home. I almost told her The Little Prince died due to the poisionous snake, but I figured it would be better for her to figure it out herself.

Afterall, the film is coming out on 29 July, she could have chance to watch it. I told her about this film, she has been waiting for it. We brought her to cinema yesterday, she thought she was going to watch it, but instead if was another movie. Since then, she has been asking, when are we going to watch The Little Prince?

Jun was the month where most of the schools have their year-end festival. We went to tour around town one Saturday and attending two of them. One school had Disney characters dance this year.

 Those in green dress must be Thinker Bell? I was not sure.

This one was from a public school, their performances were simpler, but they had more interesting games.

Back to Aelig's school. Beside the stage performance, the school also prepared some stands (at the far edge in this photo).

Schools sell coupons to parents, they can then use them to play games or buy food (sponsored by parents). Some games are simple yet creative, for example on the photo, Aelig was using a broom to push a round shape thing into holes at the other edge. They would win something if they succeed.

Overall a fun day for the kids. It is also a good way to raise money. I think Malaysian schools could use this model. Instead of asking parents to directly donate money to the school, they could raise money through students / school / parents participation.

PS : The stage performance continued on The Little Prince theme, but we went for games (hubby was holding a game stand), so didn't have photos for the performance after Aelig's.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Asian cliché

Around once a week my coworkers would bring over something to share at coffee break hours : croissants, chocolate breads, brioches (sweet bread)...Most of the time is for their birthday, or someone leaving the company...

I only go when I really know the person. I'm not a big fan of these pastries especially I have already had my breakfast at home. One day a coworker brought over something and he was asking everyone to join him. It so happened that I was walking back to my office so he stopped me and invited me to go. I reluntantly joined them as I had tons of work to finish.

When we were in the office pantry, he asked me why I never join them for breaks, and I really do fall into the Asian cliché as someone who works too much. And this relatively show that French work less in comparaison. I was taken aback when he threw this question to me. It was not my purpose to show that I work harder than anyone. I do not take break because:
- The vending machine proposes a bunch of coffee drinks except one type of tea and tomato soup. I do not take coffee.
- Most of the time people spend like 30 minutes to chit chat, two breaks/day meaning one hour's gone. Since I need to respect a certain amount of working hours per day, I prefer to spend time enjoying my lunch break, then go home early.
- Sometimes the conversation topics bore me, a lot of bitching, complaining, I prefer conversations that give me positive energies :-).

Frankly it is just a matter of habit. My pace is set at working, lunch break, working, go home. Some people would take several breaks because they couldn't stand to sit down for too long, or some need to go out for a cigarette, everyone is different. Having said so, generally I like my coworkers in the company. I enjoy working here because most of the coworkers are easy going, friendly, there are less office politic... As for Asian cliché, I'm fair from it, I know many Malaysians who work long long hours, I'm more on the French rhythm, 37 hours / week, and I'm so eager to be on summer holidays! :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

She wants 5 kids

One day, my 5 year old told me that she would like to have 5 kids.
She would have three pregnancies.
First pregnancy would bear boy girl twins.
Second pregnancy bears a boy.
Third prenancy bears twin girls.
Total 3 girls and 2 boys.
And her sister would have 7 kids.
That means I will have 12 grandkids. Wow.

I then had an interview with her, to let her know that having 5 kids demand a lot of works.

Me: How do you handle the bath? The bathtub wouldn't be big enough to put 5 in at the same time.
Her: They would take turn to go in one by one.
Me: With 5 kids you will have to do many loads of laundry. During the evening after work, you would have to fold them, iron them, and then you would need to go inside 5 rooms to put clothes for each kid in their closet.
Her: No! There will only be one closet with 5 levels. Each kid would have one level to himself, the oldest at the top, the youngest at the lowest. When the clothes are too small for the older one, I will put them to the lower level so that the younger kids can wear them.
Me: With all the housework, most likely you will finish around midnight. You are exhausted, you go to bed, but at 5am, there is one crying and this wakes up the other 4. Now you have 5 kids crying, how would you handle this?
Her: I would tell them to go back to sleep, if they don't stop I would let them cry.
Me: But they would wake up the neigbors!
Her: But there won't be neighbors around since we will be living in a house.
Me: If all of your kids ask to have a hug at the same time, what would you do?
Her: I would ask them to make a queue, then I hug them one at a time.

It seems that she has it under control. But, life would be so simple if we could simply ask our kids to make a queue or shut up just go to bed.

I only have two kids and I have hard time handling them. 
I was cooking dinner in the kitchen while the kids were having their bath. I heard them laughing together, then at one point the younger one crying. 
Cooking interrupted, I went to the bathroom to calm them. Helped one washing her hairs, took the other out and dressed her.
Back to the kitchen, both kids were playing / messing in the living room.
Both kids crying because the younger wanted to throw everything on the floor, including what her sister was playing.
Cooking interrupted, helped one brought her games to table so that the younger one wouldn't be able to mess up her game.
Cooking resumed, the young one crawled towards me and started crying and yelling (see photo above, she would move her legs each time she protests). She wanted me to hold her. Took her with me and used one hand to cook, as soon as I put her down she cried. 
Cooking interrupted, I heated up her food and fed her.
While she was eating her bread, I finally managed to put food inside the oven.

5 kids, I couldn't imagine how my life would be.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Money and friends don't mix

A friend told me recently about a 50€ story.

She was at work and everyone was going to go for lunch.
One coworker couldn't go because she needed to go to a shopping center to pawn her glasses.
This coworker needed 50€ badly, as she would have a bounced check if she didn't bank in 50€ immediately to her bank account.
Hearing her reason, the coworkers around just nodded in understanding and went to mind their own business.

When everyone was gone, my friend turned to this coworker and noticed that she was desperate, tired and sad. She immediately proposed that she could lend her 50€.
This coworker was shocked, and touched. She didn't expect anyone would lend her money.

Indeed, French in general believe that money and friends don't mix. This could also apply to family members. In my case, if I so badly needed 50€, I would have asked to borrow from a friend, or a family member. This friend who told the story is also an Asian, so we share the same culture. For both of us, it is no brainer, someone needs help, as a friend we help. Come on, we are taking about 50€, it is really not that much if we could help a friend.

But, we live in a different world. I talked to hubby about this, his immediate response was like the general French, money and friends don't mix.

Monday, May 11, 2015

6400 French on company sponsored trip to China?

There are news all over the medias regarding 6400 Chinese traveled to Paris and Nice, sponsored by their company. Indeed, it was an eye opening event for a lot of French, it was reported on prime time's news. This 4 days 3 nights company trip was estimated to bring in 13 million euros of business to France.

I wonder, what would be the possibility of a French company offering 6400 of their employees on a trip to China?

Well, financial wise, considering that the labor cost is expensive in France, and a company has to pay 50% extra for an employee on social charges (if you earn 1000€ a month, the company has to pay 50% extra to the government to cover all kind of charges, so you actually cost the company 1500€). Having said so, I know of someone who's company offers an oversea trip every other year for his whole family (4), and they will pay you cash if you don't redeem this right. So in my opinion, companies in France could totally afford to do so.


However, it is less likely they would organise a trip so high profile. Just look at the photo above, it was like an army matching on the street!


And, I don't think the French would enjoy dressing up in company uniform and forming a wall of characters just like the photo above!


Rich bosses in France, are in general quite low profile. Showing off too much of their wealth will only bring negative image to their employees instead of admiration. My bosses do not drive fancy cars, they drive cars like everybody else. In short, they are not going to "parade" on the street in a foreign country with their wife.

As a conclusion, I think financially French companies could afford to offer their employees a trip to overseas, but it is not in their culture to come in such a huge number and to catch the attention of the whole nation. In one of the news, an employee told the media that she spent 7000€ in the morning buying luxury bags and she was very very happy. I think these employees are very proud to be one of the members of this trip. However, I wonder, would they prefer to have a trip overseas once a while, or would they hope to enjoy the social coverages just like the French?

Monday, May 04, 2015

Applaud, or not?

We were having our company annual information session in a castle.
The environment was perfect, peaceful with green scenery, except that it was raining.
So we were restricted to a conference room, with top managers at the front row, and employees following behind.
A manager finished his PPT presentation and the next one was ready to give his speech.
I was going to clap my hands, but I noticed that nobody moved.
I looked at my coworker who sat beside me, he shaked his head, dispproved of what I was trying to do.

And I was just trying to applaud. We do this when someone finished a speech, right?
Well, not when the person is a manager, and in a company internal meeting, appearantly.
So, during the whole presentation, several managers stood in front of us, informing us on various issues, but non got any applause. The only applause we got that day was when someone provoked the managers with questions difficult to answer. Yes, the spirit of challenging the authorities is in the blood of French people.

Anyway, later, I was having lunch with a group of coworkers, and the coworker who stopped me from applauding told everyone what I was trying to do. They all said no no to me. I defended, that  it was out of politeness!

Yes, I'm the weird one, again.  lol

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The evil training on her sleeping habits

We heard babies sleeping overnight (8 hours straight) at 1 month old.
Not ours.
I read that young babies sleep between 16 to 17 hours a day.
Not ours.

At around 8 month old, we put her to sleep around 8pm, she would walk up at 11pm, 2am, 5am &7am. It was very tiresome, I breastfed her to go back to sleep. Sometimes she ended up sleeping in our bed, and since I didn't get enough sleep I actually had to take the second morning off as I was sleep deprived.

During winter school holidays, we sent both girls to my in laws' house. She received what I considered an evil training there. Three days later, she was sleeping through the night (12h straight)!

So what did we do?
First night : we put her to sleep around 8pm. At around 11:30pm, my MIL woke her up and fed her a bottle of milk. Then, she slept in a room alone, and we only picked her up at around 7am the second morning. No response to her crying during the night.

Second night and third night : same strategy except that we withdrew the 11:30pm bottle. She slept from 8pm to 8am, with some whining in between, but we let her cry and she fell back asleep after.

After the holidays, she came home and ajusted to the new routine with us. She woke up during the night but we insisted that no one would come to tend to her. Gradually she got the message, and since then has been sleeping sound for a around 11-12 hours during the night.

Down the memory lane

Photo shows the baby sleeping in her bassinet. She refused pacifier since she was born. After we got home from the birth clinic, every night I felt like entering a war zone (my room), as I shared the same bed as her, and she was waking up every 2 hours for milk. Hubby had since escaped from the scene, he prefered to sleep somewhere else.

At around 3 month old, we went to grandma's place. She protested when we put her down to sleep. She moved her feet so much that one foot was rubbing the side of the bassinet which caused her to bleed. I felt so bad when I discovered that her little toe was bleeding. Around 4 months old she outgrew the bassinet, as she knew how to flip over which led her to fall on the floor. Her sister stayed longer in that bassinet.

From birth to around 3 month old, I carried her with a scarf, she loved it and could sleep for long hours in it. Now I carry her with a baby porter.

She loved to sleep in this baby bouncer. Unfortunately the mid wife said she should stay there maximum 2 hours per day, as it wouldn't be good for her bone development if she stays too long. She used it until around 4 month old. 

She used to cry a lot in the car, it seems now she gets the idea and could sleep quitely while we travel in the car. She would still cry if she is too hot.

After she outgrew the bassinet we put her in this crib. She outgrew it around 7 months old as she was moving too much and kept banging on the sides. We got rid of that crib, and her as she has been sleeping in her sister's bed and room. I miss the time sharing a room with her, as I can hear her farting, fidgeting, wiggling. lol

Just a note : she is not even one, we have to get rid of the bassinet, the crib, the bouncer and soon her car seat. That's the reason why we borrowed, reused the equipments, babies just outgrow them too fast.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A little Malaysian in Paris : Aelig

She always tells me she is both French and Malaysian.
I didn't correct her, as by blood she is French and Malaysian, but officially she has not obtained her Malaysian citizenship, yet.

Initially I planned to bring only the youngest to Paris for the Malaysian citizenship application, so that it would be a quick in and out process. But when my eldest asked me if she was going along, I didn't have the heart to say no. At her age, it was easy to travel with as she eats with us, walks along, and knows how to entertain herself.

The little girl using her fake phone telling her friend that she is going to Paris. She remembered that she had been to CDG Airport in Paris (on the way to Malaysia), so she told her friend that this would be the third time she is in Paris. I told her no, this would be the first time, as going to the airport doesn't count as visiting the city.

She was telling anyone in school that she was going to see Eiffel Tower. Before the trip, I picked her up at school, she repeated it to her teacher, and her teacher said: Yes Aelig, everyone knows you are going to see Eiffel Tower: lol

Three highlights of the trip:

I want to hug Eiffel Tower
We approached the Tower and decided to climb up using stairs since there was only 20 minutes waiting. There was a long queue if you want to use the elevator. She was elated to see the Tower and told me that she wanted to hug it. Seeing me laughing, she was annoyed and kept asking why I made fun of her. I calmly told her that I was not laughing at her, just that she was too cute to want to hug a Tower that was so tall and huge. She then declared : I would hug its leg! She was just too sweet. I then mentioned about a report I once watched on the TV : an American woman annouced that she was married to Eiffel Tower, and she would fly to Paris once a year to kiss her husband. She puzzled at this story, she couldn't understand how someone can get married to a Tower, especially she was at the moment couldn't decide who to marry among her two boyfriends. lol

After seeing the Tower she wanted to buy some Tower key chains. There were a lot of illegal vendors around the area, 5 for 1€. I insisted that we only buy from legal shops. We were rushing to another place so we ended up didn't buy any until the second day. The whole morning she was nagging me. We finally got her two for 1€, but she lost one when she was playing at the Chatelet area. She was very sad, I comtemplated to buy her more (shops at the metro station selling 3 for 1€), but I think she needed to learn a lesson to take care of her own stuffs.

Saying bonjour to everyone
She tried to say bonjour (hello) to everyone on the street. Imagine the crowd on the streets in Paris! Seeing that I didn't do the same, she complained that I was inpolite! Well, I didn't know how to explain that we just don't say hello to whole bunch of people / strangers on the street. Exactely why? I figured it is because people in big city won't response anyway and if I do so I would have to say many times of Bonjour in a day? But, to my surprise, some people did reponse to her. The cold faces turned into warm smiling faces seeing her saying bonjour. I learnt a lesson.

Respecting the traffic signs
When crossing the road, we taught her to use the zebra zone and cross only when the pedestrian light turns green. Well, we were in Paris, in some area the pedestrians just cross the road so we followed. She was so mad! She was whinning the whole journey from the train station to the restaurant where my friends were waiting. We were already late, hubby was looking for the restaurant so he didn't pay attention to her. She was angry and sad that we didn't wait for the green light, and hubby actually stepped outside of the zebra zone when crossing the road. This was so unacceptable to her. She mentioned that the police might catch us and it was totally not her fault, but her daddy wouldn't listen to her! She was literally yelling to her daddy. At this point, I wonder how much we respect the instructions we gave to the kids ourselves.

Overall she did well traveling with us. I felt that she would be equally happy if we were at somewhere else, she was still too young to appreciate the charm of Paris. Here is her drawing to remember her trip to Paris.