lundi, janvier 24, 2011

The birth rates

The latest statistics are out.

The birth rate of Singapore stands at 1.16, lowest in Singapore history.

The birth rate of France increases from the year before and stands at 2.02.

Read here
and here

I contributed to France in 2009 and 2010. If we were in Singapore, would I have 2 kids by now? This is a tough question. Singapore is indeed more competitive (leading to more work stress and less family time?) but my mum who is in Singapore is so readily to help take care of the kids. For sure, we would have 1 kid.

Some reasons cited by Singaporeans for not wanting kids or just having a kid are valid reasons for us too. Seb and I work, we have no family living near us, we can't afford a live-in maid (there's min wages in France and it's about 8€ per hour; go do your maths). To give our best to our kids, it is hard but possible for us; just like many other french parents out there. We have a nanny to take care of the 2 boys at home while we are at work. We organise our outings and time mangement according to the needs of our children. We are both very tired since a few months but we are satisfied as we are involved 100% in our kids' lives. We see them everyday. We feed them and put them to sleep ourselves. Baby A2 is sleeping thru' most nights. It will only get better.

For the mentality of Singaporeans to change, they should not look at child rearing as a chore. I said that because a few of my Singaporeans friends and relatives and even my mum commented that it must be really hard for me to take care of my young children alone without help. With so much consolation from them, I started to doubt my capability and felt stress up the first 2 weeks with my children alone. But soon, I realised that it was not that difficult at all. It was a joy doing nothing and just taking care of their needs, watching them play and pass the day happily. Housework can be done later when they sleep, nap. Having a dryer (I hate to hang clothes and over here, it is not allowed), dish washer ease my task. Having a hands-on father is an extra!

I am looking forward to spring so that I can bring the kids to the park more often. Toddler A1 has unlimited energy and baby A2 is starting to be curious to his surroundings.

jeudi, janvier 20, 2011

The iPad

Came across this article and it was really true in our case.
Children learning computer skills before life skills
Toddler A1 knows how to use his dad's iPad better than me. He could go to YouTube and select "Sesame Street" videos to watch. Or he could go to iTunes and select the Barbapapa videos to watch. He could adjust the volume, pause the video, and when I told him we had to switch it off, he knew which button to press. Gosh. I did not even know where was the "On/Off" button. I thought it was that round button at the bottom of the screen.
And when Toddler A1 watched videos on my laptop, he would touch the screen hoping to pause or change video. I had to tell him that my laptop was not a touch screen.
An iPad is really a child's play compared to computers. However, great supervision is necessary when kids are online. I feel that computers are more dangerous than television. Harmful materials are just a click away.
Seb and I do hope that we would be mindful and not take it for granted that toddler A1 could learn life skills by himself.

mardi, janvier 18, 2011

The horror of French public services

I had been restraining myself from writing the horror stories of the French public services regarding the foreigners department. Whenever I need to get my papers updated, I would normally spent a whole day(or sometimes more) at the office and I would have to take days off as the public services are not open on saturdays.

For my mom's stay, Seb had to queue up as early as 5am in the cold just to get an appointment, sumbit papers and documents, resumbit some documents (note: they always asked for more papers than what was written on the internet or communicated over the phone), collect my mom's 'long-stay' card etc. We would join Seb when the office opened at 9am. It could take hours before one reached the reception desk since each person had to provide the motive and necessary documents before given a ticket. There was only a staff. Each interview could take 5 mins. There would be around 50 people before us. Yeah, there were people who camped overnight. They took the last Metro as they had no cars. Remember, this was the foreign department we were talking about and usually, the foreigners were low-skill workers. Low-skill = low pay = no car. Low-skill work also meant that if they did not work, they were not paid.

Once, we arrived at the reception desk and it was already noon. As we had an appointment, we were given a ticket. The people behind us were told to come back the next day as all tickets were given out. They could only process a certain number of requests a day. The lady behind us told me that it was the second day she was there and this time, she queued since 6am. She already had a loss of income of 2 days and a whole day of queueing wasted. Poor lady. There were many other people like her.

As mentioned earlier, I preferred not to write about such things as I had become a fatalist. In the beginning, I compared the public services here with that of Singapore which is easy and fast. Now, I decided to accept things as they are in France. France has its positive points and overall, I am contented with this country.

So, what makes me begin this post. I rattle on more than I like to. It's because of the French passports. Seb and baby A2 made their passports 3 weeks ago. We went on a weekday morning and waited for like 2 hours before everything was done. As we waited, we heard people being told to come back the next day as there was insufficient staff to process the passport applications. It was only noon then. Seb went to collect the passports last week and there were mistakes in both passports! Seb's family name was spelt wrongly. The address in both passports had mistakes and they were not even identical. They had to be redo and the system was down that day. So Seb had to go back another day to resumbit the applications. Another few hours to be wasted. Worse of all, this is costing the government money and these are the tax payers' money. Gosh. This is what got me started with this post. I better stop here now. Nothing, nothing goes well with the public service here. If we managed to get something done fast and correct with the public services, it was really a miracle.

jeudi, janvier 13, 2011

No period.

Toddler A1 is at his "no" period(phase). Everything he says is "No" period(fullstop)!
This is somewhat getting me on my nerves.

Example: He was on the high chair.
Are you hungry? No.
Do you want to eat? No.
So, you are not hungry? No.
You want to come down? No.
You want to stay in your chair? No.

Then the dad asked in French: 'You want to be an astronaut?' He paused and stared at us.
I added 'You want chocolate?' 'Yes', came the reply. So he did process our questions in his mind.

There were days he refused to eat and sometimes, he said no during mealtime and yet put the food in his mouth. Even at nights, we heard him crying 'No' in his sleep. Poor boy.

We read that this is a common behavior for toddlers and it usually ends by the age of 3 years. Gosh. We will have to endure this on/off periods of "No"s for another year. Or maybe more as some friends told us.

samedi, janvier 01, 2011

Oyster knife

Happy new year everyone. 2011 is here. How fast.

Over the Christmas lunch, I had 6 yummy oysters. I only had oysters during Christmas as I only trust the oysters bought by my in-laws. I had once been very sick after eating fresh(?) oysters in Singapore.
Yesterday, while shopping for our new year eve's dinner at the supermarket, I decided to get half a dozen of fresh oysters. I had this oyster knife since many years but never used it yet.

So, for the first time, I had to open the oysters by myself since only I eat them in this home. Seb won't help cos' he did not know how. But me too! It was not as difficult as I thought. It was pretty easy once you find the opening. I am proud of myself. Something to add to my list of skills before the year ends. (LOL. As if this skill is important. )