dimanche, juin 18, 2017

Planting

I am starting a small vegetable plot. An area of 120cm by 120cm. For the moment, it has 3 zucchini plants, a tomato plant, 2 strawberry plants, 6 french beans plants, basil, chilli plants and coriander. 

I took seeds from a chilli few weeks back and put them in a small pot. They grew. I am waiting patiently for the fruits of my labor.


samedi, juin 17, 2017

A1's OB

This is A1's faithful friend since he was 3 months old. A1 is 8 now and every night he still sleeps with OB, his best pal. He has other friends in bed but OB is the one he brings for stay over at the grandparents or when we go on vacation. 

In the morning, sometimes he brings OB down for breakfast and at night, he starts looking for OB when lights are out. He would rush downstairs to look for OB.

OB is small but such a faithful friend. A1 loves him a lot. It is not possible to replace him. At least for the moment.
 No present for guessing why he is called OB. His name is tattooed on his paw. ;)

jeudi, juin 01, 2017

Munich weekend

Seb and I spent a weekend in Munich during the Munich Hi-End audio show.  Seb wanted to attend the event for two days while I wanted to visit our dear friend Nicole and her family. It was the first time we met her baby girl. 

We took the 7.20 am flight on saturday and reached Nicole's place by 10am. I spent the day with her and her girls strolling along the streets. The neighbourhood was holding a backyard sale / flea market. It was interesting as people put up stands and tables right in front of their appartments. There was usually a small table with food and drinks, and neighbours and friends chatted while waiting for buyers. 

I managed to get one musical box with story cards in French. The boys could choose a card and read the short story while the music played for a minute. 
We headed to the nearby park for the older girl to play and had her afternoon snack. In the evening, Seb came and picked me up. Upon Nicole's recommendation, we had dinner at Max Pett, a vegan restaurant. We were not disappointed.

We headed to our hotel for a night's rest and early next morning, Seb headed back to his show while I took a bus to Nicole's place. 

The family was invited to a birthday celebration and I tagged along. It was an hour and a quarter's drive from Munich. Schliersberg Bahn was the place and we took a funicular to get to the top. It is a family friendly place.

The view from Schiliersberg was breath taking.

There are self service restaurants, playground, giant trampolines, hotel and a heated pool. I spent a lovely afternoon chatting with the germans in english. I wish more french are open to speak english like their neighbours. I also spent the time eating white sausage with sweet mustard sauce along with a small beer. And then a burger with sparkling apple juice.

By 4pm, I walked down to the car with Nicole pushing the pram and another friend. Andreas and Nicole's older girl slided down on the summer toboggan run. It looked so fun. I have to bring the boys here the next time.

Andreas kindly drove me to the airport. I met Seb at the beer garden. We had a light dinner, shopped at the supermarket and took our flight back. This was the first time I traveled overseas with a backpack as baggage.

We reached home on sunday at almost midnight. Seb's mother had come and stayed at our place since friday evening to help take care of the boys and the pets. We are grateful for her help.

This trip though short was fulfilling. Seb was happy with his show. I was very happy to meet Nicole and her family. We had a good catch up and we enjoyed the time we spent togather. How I wish Singapore is a throw away like Munich.

dimanche, mai 28, 2017

Bonne fête maman

Today is mother's day in France. The boys told the father to pick them up on wed from school so that they could hide the Mother day's presents. 

This morning, they gave me each a paper bag. They drew on the bags and in them, were plants they planted. 

I love their drawings. A1 drew a rainbow according to an english song he learnt in school. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink.  He wrote "Singapoure" to show that the lady was his mother. He asked if the spelling was correct. I told him in french, it was spelt as Singapour and in english, as Singapore. He spelt it Frenish way.

A2 drew a family of four with heart shaped flowers.

The plants were planted by them since a while back. I shall bring one to my office. What a sweet idea from the teacher. Even though they are in primary school, their teacher still makes an effort for such occasion.

jeudi, mai 11, 2017

Upcycle bib

This is my third upcycle bib. I made two from old jeans and gave them to my nephew without taking pictures.

When Tim was here, he left me his old broken jeans. Here is a bib made for his son from that jeans and scraps leftover when I made A1's school bag.

It is not perfect but I find it cute. I shall make a few more for friends with babies.


mercredi, mai 10, 2017

Château de Kergroadez

When we were in Brittany during the April school holidays, we visited a nearby castle. It was Château de Kergroadez. This is a privately owned castle. There is guided tour for visitors and activities for children. It can be rented for events and the castle plans its own escape game. 

We adults took the guided tour while the boys learnt to be a knight. It was a small castle but nevertheless, it was full of history. You can read more at its website.

The roofs and windows were newly restored. The walls of the castle were very solid and stood against the Brittany weather and even fire. 

If you are going to Brittany near Brest, this castle can make a good afternoon outing. 








lundi, mai 01, 2017

Grass is the hair of earth

Spring is here and we spent the past weekend spring cleaning the garden. Seb was busy pulling out weeds while I trimmed the rose plants and planted flowers on the bare flower bed. The boys wanted to help and we gave them each a garden scissors to cut the grass growing along the edge of the terrace.

A2 was happily working and we overheard him saying "Les herbes, ce sont les cheveux de la terre." It means, "The grass, they are the hair of the earth".  I asked where he got that phrase from and he replied he thought of it spontaneously. What a poet!

This makes me look at grass and fields with a different view. Indeed, we are shaping earth's head. I hope it won't turn bald though it is losing its hair at an alarming speed. I hope humans will be creative and intelligent to give earth a head of shining, healthy hair.

mercredi, avril 26, 2017

Home made Pinata

A friend asked how do I make a pinata. Here 's a simple tutorial.
There are 2 ways of making pinata. The balloon paper mache method needs a few days of preparation as one has to wait for each layer of paper maché to dry before adding a new layer.

As I started 2 days before the party, I used the other method; with cardboards. I cut up 2 roughly round cardboards and a few long rectangle strips. I used tape to stick up the side of the strips and the round cardboard. 

Then, I put in the sweets and goodies into the pinata.
I added scrambled paper to fill up the pinata. This would help to distribute the weight so that the goodies would not be at the bottom.
Lastly, I used tape to stick the other round cardboard to close the pinata. I marked with numbers as my circle was not perfectly round. The numbers helped to align the other round cardboard. Oh yes, I forgot to add that when sealing the breadth, remember to put in a string for hanging the pinata. I used extra tape to make it strong.
Now that the pinata was completed, I started to decorate it using crepe paper and a plastic plate. I pasted crepe paper on the side first. For the frills, I folded the paper three times before cutting it. I used to use glue to stick it to the pinata. This time round, I found that tape was less messy. If you need more help in the decoration, check out this website.
Hope this little explanation solves the mystery that pinata is impossible to DIY. If I can do it, so can you. ;-)

Minion birthday party

My big boy is 8. He invited 8 friends including his brother for his birthday party last sunday. There was only one girl this time. Jeanne has tennis and football lessons with the boys and as I am a close friend with her mum, these three kids hang out togather very often. 

I made a chocolate marble cake and decorated it simply. I also made banana cupcakes topped with Minion sweets. 
As tradition calls for it, I made a pinata. It was the same design as the home made invitation cards. As one can see, I did not make a big effort on the pinata. One needs a big imagination to see that it is minion and not pac-man. Still, it did not bother the kids. They were eager to break it and get the sweets and goodies.
We did a few games and one of them was to tie a balloon on one's leg. Then, trying to burst the balloons of the others. It was very funny watching the kids running around trying to protect their balloons.
 We also did a stick the eye on the minion game. It was too easy for these kids.

The children ate cakes, sweets, played, ran, screamed etc. It was hard to get a group photo. Still, I managed to get them to wear their minion hats and had this funny photo taken. They looked so Minion, don't they?
A1 is one lucky boy. The weather was sunny and he had lots of fun with his friends.

jeudi, avril 20, 2017

Chateau de la Madeleine

Chateau de la Madeleine is half an hour's drive from our home. I know about this place but never thought of visiting it until Carmen mentioned about it. 

So we headed there last friday afternoon. This castle is perched high on a hill in the Chevreuse valley. The view from the top was beautiful. 
Though the castle is in ruins, it is still worth the visit. In the garden, there are many information boards sharing about being eco-responsable locally. Example like accepting weeds in the garden instead of using harmful weed killing chemicals. 

The boys had fun imagining the old glorious day of this fortress. A1 found a stick and pretended to be an archer launching his arrows through the arrowslit. A2 took pebbles and threw into the well wishing that he could be the fastest runner among his friends in this world. His brother told him that the wish had to be kept a secret for it to come true. But A2 being himself could not keep a secret. The wish of a 6 year old is so different from an adult. I would wish to be prosper. :) But now it is no longer a secret....:(
This free castle visit is short and yet interesting. There is a souvenir shop and free activity book for children.

As we were leaving the castle, the boys and Carmen picked up dandelion flowers to blow. They had such fun trying to blow them fast and strong.
One more castle visit down. We were joking that when Carmen has visited the castles in my area within a 2 hours and a half's drive radius, I would have to move house, to another area with lots of castles.

Easter

For Easter this year, we celebrated on saturaday at the grandparents' place as my brother and his family were leaving France on Sunday the 16 April. It was also the occasion for the french family to meet Tim's baby.

On 16 April, the boys went egg hunting at Maison Elsa Triolet-Aragon. Each year, this place organised egg hunting and a concert for children. Each year we missed it as we would be having lunch at the grandparents'.

This time round, we attended the event. Each kid had to search for 5 eggs. Depending on the age group, the kids had to pick different colored eggs. For my boys, they had to look for white eggs. The egg hunt started at 2pm. We arrived at 3.30pm and had a hard time looking for eggs. It seemed that the kids before us had found all the eggs. 

At 4.30pm, we attended the concert and the boys were happy to find 2 of their classmates and tennis friend and karate friend among the audience.

After the concert, the boys went looking for eggs again in the huge park with their friends.

When the event ended at 6pm, we were still a few eggs short. Still, the boys managed to exchange their white plastic eggs for a Milka chocolate and some small chocolate eggs.

It was a lovely event. Just need to make sure if we come back next year, we arrive not too late. A neighbour told me this morning that arriving at the start of the event was no fun because the eggs could be found easily.

lundi, avril 10, 2017

The cross-country runner

Tim and family arrived on wed the 29th March. As I do not work on Wednesday, I was able to go to the airport to fetch them. That day, A1 had his first cross-country event organised among 4 schools. 

Seb and I knew that A1 is a fast runner. Last year, he participated in a race organised in the nearby town. He run 720m and clocked 3min 56sec. He was 10th among 50 kids his age. As it was his first race and we did not know the path, we told him not to run too fast and tired himself out before the end. He finished the race easily and could have done better had we not advised him to run slower. 

The evening before 29th March, Seb and I advised him not to run too fast again. I know, we are weird parents. We did not know the distance of the cross-country and did not want him to be out of breath before the finishing line. We told him to run behind the first boy and just before reaching the finishing line, sprint for it if he still has the energy to do it. For non-runners like us, that was the best advise we could give him.

On 29th March, I picked up the Soh family early in the morning. The other mothers who did not work on Wednesday joined the CE1 and CE2 classes for the event. Near noon, one mother sent me a photo of A1 running with a caption "He won". A1's teacher sent me a photo of my boy with a medal around his neck with a caption "Gold medal". I was taken by surprise. I would love to be there to cheer him on and enjoy his moment of glory. 

When I went to pick up the boys in school, the mothers told me A1 was far ahead in the race. No one could overtake him. No one was able to tell me the distance nor his timing. The teacher told me A1 was his usual modest and shy self despite his achievement.

At home, I asked A1 about his experience. He told me they walked from the finishing line to the starting point. Parents were dropped along the way to guide the kids during the run. A1 chose to walk behind so that when they reached the starting line and turned around, he would be at the front. This is one smart boy. He started with this little advantage and took our advise running behind 2 boys. However, he felt that he could go faster and overtook them easily. When he won, he felt stressed as all the mothers were praising him and his friends cheering. This boy is not used to having such attention on him. 

Seb and I are proud of him. I sent the photos to Seb as he was not in town. He was surprised like me and of course very happy for his son too. 

samedi, avril 08, 2017

Phare du Trezien

School holiday is here again. Tim and family came visiting and we spent a week in Brittany. 
We were blessed with good weather. It was windy at times but we had sun almost every day. 

We visited the lighthouse at Trezien. It is 37.2m high and we walked up the 180+ steps. The guide at the top explained to us the history of the lighthouse. All lighthouses in France work automatically. The last lighthouse keeper here left in 1985.

 From up there, the view was excellent. It was very windy too.

The wall facing the south is painted white to help the ships in their direction.

Beside the lighthouse was the old keeper's house. Now, it is an information center. Below is a model of a lighthouse out at sea. The keeper would live in the lighthouse.
This is a short and meaningful trip. Especially for the boys.

mercredi, mars 29, 2017

La méthode de Singapour

Singapore's method on teaching maths is famous in France. Today I was reading an article about a french mother home schooling her children and for maths, she was using the Singapore method. I briefly read through and thought she bought materials from Singapore.

In the afternoon while A2 was having his karate lesson, I waited outside and saw a mother going through homework with her daughter. She was waiting for her son as well. We chatted and she told me she was using the Singapore method on maths as enrichment material for her daughter. She showed me the book she bought. The title was "Maths Méthode de singapour". I was surprised that the Singapore's method was well recognised and in France, there are books adapted to the different classes.

She explained to me that she had done some research and decided to try the Singapore method as Singapore kids have the best grades on Maths. Maths is explained in a graphical way for the primary school children to understand easily. This intrigued me.

Seb and I do not want to give extra lessons to our children at home as we do not want them to get bored in class. If the boys asked about a subject, we would of course answer him. We do not deny the kids if they want to learn something. However, we do not want to get ahead of school learning. I wonder if I should get these text book and work book for the boys. Should I be a kiasu* parent?

*(of a person) very anxious not to miss an opportunity; grasping.

dimanche, mars 26, 2017

Spring is here.

Spring is here and the trees are alive again. I am always amazed with spring. Barren trees start to bloom once there are a few days of rain followed by a day or two of sunshine. 
This tree is in front of A2's room. Each morning when I rolled up the shutter, we got this lovely sight.


 This other tree is what greets us from the home office. The trees look beautiful. However, once the wind comes, the petals would drop everywhere including our drive way. It is a messy affair trying to clean the ground.

In our garden, the apricot tree is flowering as well. The cherry and apple trees are starting to bud. Chives are shooting out from a corner of the garden. I thought they are gone forever but each spring at the same spot, the chives appear. Just amazing. After so many years in this country, I marvel each time at the beginning of a season. 
Guess it's because I come from a tropical country.

samedi, mars 11, 2017

Chouquettes et Café

A1 comes home after school and does not stay in the after school care since the beginning of the year. My big boy wants to be independant and enjoys the short walk home with some older schoolmates. Since he is having his afternoon tea at home, I am trying to bake twice a week. I want to cut down on store bought cakes and biscuits.

Usually, I make banana cake, chocolate cookies, yogurt cake or crepes.

Recently, I made chouquettes with the Thermomix and the kids loved them. It was easy to make..  
These chouquettes go well with a latte. For Seb's birthday, the family and I bought him a coffee machine. It makes espresso the way my man likes it. 

Seb can make mousse out of milk with this machine. Once a while, I would ask him to prepare me a latte in the afternoon.
 He makes me coffee and I would like to make him vegan chouquettes. I have the receipe, just waiting for inspiration and courage*.

* The last vegan chocolate cake I made was not tasty at all.

jeudi, mars 09, 2017

Sad news for the white rhinoceros

I just read in the news that poachers killed the white rhinoceros Vince in the Thiory zoo. This is the first time poachers committed their crimes in a zoo, in Europe. They managed to get away with one of his horns. Poachers are no longer just confined in Africa. The horns must be so priced that poachers are willing to take the risk to break into the zoo. The population of these animals in the wild are menaced. Now, even the zoos can't protect them.
We have visited this zoo twice and this is such a sad news. :(

samedi, février 25, 2017

Book: L'attentat

I read this book three weeks ago. I borrowed this book from my friend's son who is 17 and had to read it as part of his school work.

This book is available in english under the title 'The attack'. The author wrote under the pen name Yasmina Khadra.

A suicide bomber exploded in a packed restaurant in Tel Aviv. Dr. Amin Jaafari, an Isareli Arab surgeon who was respected and admired by his colleagues was informed that his wife might have been the suicide bomber. He could not believe it and decided to find out the truth.

This book is not a thriller. It is not too dramatic. It talks about how the life of Dr Jaafari completely changed after this news. He went to the morgue to identify his wife. He started asking questions to himself. His house in a high end neighbourhood was visited by mobs calling him names and accusing him of being a terrorist like his wife. He was questioned by the police. He was lost and decided to visit the places his wife had visited to find answers.

As the story gets closer to the end, the author showed the readers the other side of the wall. Life in Palestine. Dr Jaafari realised that his wife was indeed the suicide bomber and he came to realise what she was fighting for. He realised he could never be part of her belief. He was a surgeon meant to save lives.

The ending was sad. This is the second book I read about the conflict in the middle east. I would prefer the other book. Though I read it many years back, it is still one of my favourite book. I shall write about it soon.

dimanche, février 19, 2017

A walk in the winter wonderland

When the sun finally came out on Thurs on that ski week, I joined a guided walking tour in the forest. We put on our snow shoes called raquettes in french. Raquettes mean rackets. It is having plastic rackets with metal grips underneath tied to our shoes. In this way, we could "easily" walk on the soft snow. We do have walking sticks to make the walk easier.

Still, I was sweating after walking up a gentle slope. Most of us in the group started to unzip our jackets by then. The forest was silent and it was beautiful. The guide showed us animals' traces. Sometimes, he would go off trail and we would be walking in almost knee deep of snow. It was fun.


Our ski resort was opposite right at the top of the mountain.



The walk was a physical workout. Just that few hours made me exhausted yet the scenary made it all worth well. I am amazed with my boys who skiied the whole day and yet in the evening, were still full of energy.
And I made a friend. Her daughter is studying in Singapore and she is going to visit her in April. She did not expect to meet a Singaporean in this part of France.We exchanged numbers and I promised to send her tips about her up coming trip. Singaporeans are not aplenty but we are everywhere.