Tax Hurts!

Posted by Analyse at 7:29 AM

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I was checking for airfares on one of the European destinations and found this:

Airfare : 38.00€
Taxes : 140.56€
Charges : 0.63€

Taxes represent 78% of the total price. Arrrgh!

One, T...

Posted by Analyse at 5:46 PM

Monday, February 26, 2007

Having a baby is a no joke. It demands YOU, as a whole. No part-time or full-time parenting. There's just no rule. I don't consider myself a part-time Mom because I'm with my daughter from 6 to 9pm everyday. I believe that parenting has only one common goal - to give the best for their children - whatever their means. And again, there's no rule.

Frenchguy and I lived for more than 4 years together before having Louna. And it was a common decision. Our 2 years of long distance relationship was not enough to really know each other so we agreed to take our time. We wanted to explore our life together without a kid. And when the time came to have a baby, we both knew it. It was instinct. We were ready to become parents.

But second-time parents? Errrr... He's ready. I am not. That's the problem.

For Moms out there, how did you know that it was time for the second one? Do you consult your Chinese calendar? Do you do it by vote? Because your horoscope says so? You toss a coin? You ask a fortune teller? Or you just wake up one morning and feel ready?

Well, I'm quite lost. I don't even know why I am not ready? And me thinks it's important for a happy pregnancy. Yelp!

Why I Love My New Toy

Posted by Analyse at 3:26 PM

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm quite ecstatic to discover my new toy. I was so used to drive my old 1992 model Peugeot 106 that changing it by a 2006 model seems to be a big promotion for me. Contrario to what we dreamt of, we ended up buying a car which was, for us, a car for Monsieur Tout-le-Monde (Mr Everybody). Simply because we find a lot of these cars on the road (8 out of 10 in its category, we learned - but ain't it a good indicator of good quality and good customer satisfaction?).

It was not on our list, never considered as a potential candidate, and not even our dream car. We wanted something different... till we did the road test. We were awed. We were seduced. We wanted that same car.

Here are some super cool options I find great:

Hands-Free Card = Key : The car opens automatically when you approach it. You could keep the card in your pocket/bag forever as you don't even need to push a button to open the car. To start the car, you just have to push a button and off you go. To close it, simply push the button on the car door. I know, this little gadget is an electronic concentrate... but it's just so cool!

Big Boot Capacity and Handy Drawers in Every Seat : Women. You should understand me. By the way, the glove compartment serves as a 'refrigerator'. Cold drinks you keep inside remains at the same temperature throughout the ride. Cool!

Cruise Control and Speed Limiter/Regulator : Ok, this thingy, I hated it when I first drove a car with this option on the roads of America. Imagine me driving, alone on the road, on the long straight roads of the West, without the gears to change or the gas to accelerate - it was boring - nearly pushing me to sleep. But with the fixed and mobile radars roaming around France, we better have it.

Consumption Display : Ang saya. Who drives better? Moi or Frenchguy? Hehe.. it's our new toy, I tell you.

Special Edition : Who wouldn't want it?

PS: No regrets. My dream mini consumes 6.7 L/100km (42.2 mpg) compared to 6L/100km (47 mpg) for my Renault Scénic II. Not a bad deal. Be earth-friendly. - now, don't call that sour graping, OK?

Carte de Résident

Posted by Analyse at 6:43 PM

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Visa, resident card, green card.. the nightmare for all immigrants. I finally had mine so I thought I should share at least my experience so it could guide other resident card aspirants here in France.

In my case (PACSed), I had to wait 5 years before the obtention of this resident card. For those who are married, the waiting time is reduced to two years.

As usual, the request for visa renewal is 2 months prior to the validity date. Aside from the usual paperasse, namely:
- valid passport
- old visa card
- 3 months address (electricity bill for example) and salary justifications
- PACS certificate - not more than 3 months (from the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris)
- 3 recent ID pictures
- 1 envelope with mailing address and stamp

I also provided the following papers:
- birth certificate of Louna
- family book (livret de famille)
- motivation letter justifying my request for a 10-year visa

When my visa expired, the Prefecture issued a récépissé (receipt) valid for 3 months which is sufficient enough for travel (I was able to travel to the Philippines with the récépissé) and other administrative needs (CAF et CPAM). Before the end of the récépissé, I was asked to present to the Prefecture for an interview on Proces Verbal d'Integration Républicaine. And here are some sample questions:

- How would you prove that you're well integrated to the French Republic?
- What are the 3 symbols of France?
- What do they mean for you?
- What are the roles of the President? Prime Minister? National Assembly?.... Prefecture?

And I swear, I wasn't able to answer half of the questions, especially on the last part. The interviewer filled-up the questionnaire while explaining to me the different roles of each government entity. I was half-joking half-anxious that I hope I won't be judged because of my ignorance. And he seriously said YES. So I was actually negociating for another interview so I could review each of the questions before the D-day when he said 'Don't worry, you will have your 10-year resident card soon.' Yohooo!

By the way, I was asked to read an article and write a sentence before the interview. During the first exchange of conversations, he told me that I should speak a lot more with my daughter, indirectly telling me that I speak shitty French. How to destabilize an enemy. I swear, he was the first ever to tell me that. Good thing he told me I speak really well before the end of the interview. That's an additional ego booster.

Ober da Bakod

Posted by Analyse at 9:44 PM

Monday, February 19, 2007

No trespassing: Except for those who cross the border at daytime, by foot or by bicycle, with proper documents and goods not exceeding the tolerated limit. The Customs.

Hiking at the border ain't that easy. You have to bring your papers, or else...

To France or to Switzerland?

F for French Border.
S for Swiss Border.

Torn between two borders..


Posted by Analyse at 6:10 PM

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What seems to be so natural for us could be completely absurd to other culture. Co-sleeping is one of them. Some would chose not to co-sleep with their children but never would they incite other parents to do the same. I still remember our supersize green mosquito net for the whole family (of six children). It was the haven of pleasant childhood memories - the joy of playing with my siblings before bedtime, the race to get the best place beside my mom, the big fat mosquitoes in the morning that we had to capture one by one, and so on.

And that doesn't end after childhood. The last time I was in the Philippines, the whole family (after the departure of Frenchguy) occupied one room out of four. Syempre pa, we couldn't resist to midnight kwentuhan, asaran and tawanan.

But here, I had a first hand experience of total refuse. First, it was at the maternity clinic. The nurses wanted to take Louna from me for our first night of finally being together. Their reason was for me to take a rest after a tiring labor (I gave birth at 3pm) and for Louna to feel the separation. I found the 2nd reason too brutal so I persisted that I wanted her in my room for the night. And anyway, there was no way I'd leave my newly-born child sleep somewhere else but beside me. They said ok but Louna had to stay in her crib, just near the door so she won't see me and smell my odor. What a way to reject a child on her first day in this cruel world. So I said ok just to finish the discussion but I actually slept with her. In fact, I was probably branded as a bad Mom when I left the clinic. E ano ngayon?

Then came my inlaws. Dangerous. Ridiculous. Destabilizing. Confusing. For them, those were the words to describe co-sleeping.

Last month, Louna was very ill. High fever followed by vomiting so I had to co-sleep with her while Frenchguy slept on the floor. When my inlaws knew about it, they laughed and found the act ridiculous. They even adviced that it has to be the other way around, Louna on the floor, Frenchguy on bed. Ridiculous. That time, I hated them 100%.

The ordeal of co-sleeping. I'm glad Frenchguy willingly discovered the joy of co-sleeping that I sometimes find Louna on our bed even on weekdays. Love it. Happy heart's day Frenchguy!

Note: We only co-sleep with Louna on weekends as I have sleeping difficulties. It's the best balance we found and I swear, everybody's excited every weekend.

Why One Prevention is better than a Thousand Cure

Posted by Analyse at 10:45 AM

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We knew that it will come one day, but not this soon.. we always reasoned out the lack of finances, that it's not our priority, that everything seemed to be working well, that she's running a-alright.

But too late now.. my Peugeot 106 is seriously ill!

And it came barely 2 months before the arrival of the new car. Bad timing. We actually brought it to the garage for the technical control so we could sell it afterwards. The bad news came when the garage manager informed us that he couldn't release the car. That we need to have it repaired for 350€ when the car value is barely 500€. Darn!

Now we're blocked with only one car available for at least a week, obliged to have the car repaired, need to expedite the buying process of the new car, and stay calm to avoid friction at home.

If only we decided earlier to buy a new one, considering that we knew that both cars were almost dead, we could have saved ourselves from all this mess. Sigh!

Note: Peugeot 106, 1992 model, 187,000 km, pawis-steering. She's been my constant companion for almost 5 and a half years.

Sunny Weekend

Posted by Analyse at 6:09 PM

Saturday, February 10, 2007

There she goes.. like a big girl.. taking a walk at the park like a grown up..


Posted by Analyse at 6:50 PM

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How do two engineers at home deal with important decisions?

- First, they stablish a CdCF, the functional requirement.
They would list down all criteria possible then weigh each of them according to the defined objective and needs. He looks for performance, she looks for comfort. He looks for energy, she looks for consumption. He looks for prestige that goes with the product, she looks for functionnality.

- Then they compare and analyse different solutions.
By internet. By visiting different boutiques.

- Then check if they are within the target budget.
Hello banker? We need cash. Deal or no deal?

- Finally, they negociate.

The most difficult part, the first one, has already been defined. Finally. After having consecutive headaches (thus, expenses!) with our old Peugeot 306 and 106 (yes, the two cars!) and after having endless discussions on which car we will keep (for me), we finally decided to entertain the option of buying a new one. But who would tell that this experience could become a getting-to-know each other's preferences stage for us?

Frenchguy dreamt of having a big BMW, Audi or VW. The problem is, we have a very narrow garage. Built in the 30s, the proprietors at that time didn't anticipate the idea of having cars as big as what we have now. And he even thought of buying a 4x4! Asus! Probably 85% of our time is spent driving in our little Dijon, we don't need a 4x4. Add to the fact that the energy consumption of such car is way out of my take on the environment. Scratch the idea.

Moi wanted a Mini. Hehe, syempre pa, scratch kaagad ang idea.

CdCF says: family-friendly car, big trunk, bigger sitting capacity but relatively small in size, low fuel consumption (low C02 emission), diesel, good performance (110 hp mini), silver, affordable price. After comparing different brands and models, we ended with one car in mind. It's in fact a very common car which we totally ignored but finally seduced us with all its functionalities and options. Hope the banker says 'deal'. Hmm, I'm quite impatient to drive it now..

I Love This!

Posted by Analyse at 10:38 AM

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Credits: Word Art by Tina Chambers from DSP

I had myself an Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 for a Christmas gift and I start to love it. Just starting to learn the twists and turns, lurking for freebies, checking for tutorials, making scrappy scraps. This one's too neophyte probably, but I just love it.