A Day at the Pre-School

Posted by Analyse at 9:00 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We attended the first parent-teacher's meeting last Tuesday at Louna's pre-school. The purpose of the meeting was to present the parents the nouveautés, the different schedules and activities this school year, and to explain how a day at the pre-school goes for a young kid like Louna.

Like all the other schools, they will open their door to different languages in Europe with a highlight on the English language. But aside from the normal English course included in the curriculum, they propose an immersion to the language with a twice a week (an hour per session) course with an English speaker within 12 weeks. Fee would be 80€ but parents are only requested to pay 40€. The other 40€ will be shouldered by the school and the parent-teacher association. That's really good news as I want Louna to be more exposed to the language. Dora (and her other DVDs) is good but she needs a wider reference now.

We talked about other activities like museum visits, class picture, sports activities (an hour every Tuesday and Friday with an specialized teacher), catechism, birthday celebrations, etc. Louna's calendar starts to fill up too.

Then we talked about the normal day at the pre-school. You know, sometimes, I feel like installing a webcam so I could observe how my daughter spends her day at the school. Of course, after the meeting, I had a clearer view of her daily activities which go as follows:

8:30am - arrives at school with her Papa. She then stays with other kids in a room dedicated for kids who arrive earlier. An assistant will take care of them during this short period.

8:45am - start of classes. Kids will be organized in small groups. The classroom has small dedicated corners like bedroom, kitchen, garage, tables and boards where they could write and draw and a corner where the teacher reads a story while kids attentively listen. The teacher is helped by an assistant especially in taking kids to the toilet, dining area, playground and bedroom.

Learning skills are focused on:

Language - kids are encouraged to tell what he thinks of a picture or a drawing

Mathematics + Socialization - like counting the number of absentees by using picture cards. They first take their own cards (because it's important for kids to recognize themselves in a picture) then give the names of the absentees (it's quite hard for kids to remember their friend's name, apparently) and count them.

Graphics - drawing, shapes, colors

Motor Skills - like cutting with a scissor, holding a pen, etc.

Their activities will of course progress in function of each child's developmental milestones.

9:30am - kids will go to the toilet in small groups then proceed to the playground.

10:30am - story time.

11:45am - fetch Louna from school. We take our lunch together while she recounts how her morning was.

1:45pm - start of afternoon class.

2:00pm - kids will be accompanied to their bed for a little nap

3:00 - 3:30pm - end of siesta. They will then do different activities till 4:45.

4:45pm - fetch Louna from school.

Louna seems to love this new experience. Ask her where she spends her day and she would voluntarily answer école. She learns to socialize and follow rules which is great for her age. We started bringing her only to the morning class but since she loved the experience last Tuesday where she spent the whole day at school, including lunch, we would then bring her in the afternoon too. But she would take her lunch at home while Maman is on maternity leave.

Since schools in France are close on Wednesdays, and I'm planning to take all my Wednesdays off when I get back to work, I thought of enrolling Louna on different activities around the community. We tried music and gym classes yesterday and we will try skating on Saturday. I'm still having second thoughts on the gym classes as she's got sports activities twice a week and I'm afraid it's just a repetition of what she's already doing at school. I think I'll have my decision finalized once I see the benefits of skating to Louna.

Whew! I didn't realize that I could be this busy.. and my, I'm just a mom to a pre-schooler!

Labor and Birthing Positions

Posted by Analyse at 1:58 PM

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm 17 days away from D Day and frankly, I'm getting T I R E D of being pregnant. My tummy has been stretched out at its maximum level, me thinks, and no anti-stretch mark cream could ever prevent it from cracking. Too late. Damage has been done.

I'll be attending my last birthing class tomorrow but I'm already happy with the result. I feel more relaxed and confident with the coming labor. I took sophrology classes, a relaxation-yoga kind of thing where control of oneself is being learned. We learned quite a lot of labor and birthing positions during the last session and I've already chosen the positions which seem to be the most comfortable for me.

Labor Positions

Side-Lying - with one leg stretched out and the other pulled closer to the tummy, in less than 90° angle. Apparently accelerates dilation of the cervix.

Sitting on a Large Balloon - accompanied by circular, left to right and back to front movements of the perineum to help the baby find its position for labor. I tried this and not only it positions the baby, it's relaxing too.

Birthing Positions

Semi-Sitting - involves semi-sitting position with spine curved and legs drawn up while holding on a bar attached on the bed. I think I will opt for this position during D Day. It gave me the impression of having more force from my arms and legs to push the baby out. Frenchguy jokingly called it the Harley Davidson position.

Side-Lying - seems to be the most relaxing position for the mother and it reduces the need for episiotomy. This will be my plan B.

I hope I'll have a safe and easier delivery this time taking into account that I understand better what labor and birthing means. My first delivery didn't really left me with a great experience to share. I wasn't the actor of that moment (add to the fact that I was induced 2 weeks before D Day because the baby was already too big inside). I didn't even know how to push. I kept the lithotomy (flat-on-back) position the whole time because I didn't know that I could actually change position pushing as much as I could but the OB ended up with a suction cup for vacuum extraction and I was left with an episiotomy to heal.

Each mom has her own labor and birthing story to share - varying from one child to another. What position did you choose? What is your experience giving birth in the Philippines or another country? Please share some pointers to live this great experience more memorable.

While waiting for your stories, this expectant mom will be walking around the park to induce labor naturally. See you around ;).

Credits: Pictures from this page.

Hosting 101 for Preggy Moms

Posted by Analyse at 10:37 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

If you're planning to host a friend and you're bump is too-big-you-think-you'll-explode-in-seconds, there are 2 important things to note that could save your life:

- Have your car and GPS available then prepare an itinerary for your friend. Save addresses in the GPS - home and maternity clinic as first on the list.
- Bear in mind that your friend is a potential babysitter.

Kidding aside, everything's going wonderfully well to think that we didn't prepare anything. We visited Beaune yesterday and took the scenic drive on our way back to Dijon. Aside from the vineyards covering the hills and plains of Côte d'Or, she was also enchanted by the old villages which completed the decor of this lovely paysage.

It was just funny tho that the bump is already touching the steering wheel and since we took some rough roads during the drive, I had series of mild contractions which forced me to drive on first gear during the visit. She proposed to drive but I prefered to do it so I could control the situation, slowing down if necessary.

Then I had my rendez-vous with the midwife last night. Frenchguy's presence was necessary because we learned the different positions on giving birth and the role of the father in each situation. Louna was delighted to stay with her new-found friend. Not only did she babysit, she also prepared dinner! Now, ain't that great?

Today, Frenchguy took a day off to accompany her in the Jura region while Louna and I stayed at home (well, Louna at school). Tomorrow, she will have the car for her all day so she could roam anywhere she wants. Then in the evening, we will take her to the train station. She will take the night train to Venice, Italy. She will then be back Saturday morning. We still have the whole weekend to catch up.

Filipino hospitality still runs in my vein. Not knowing what to offer her and not be able to accompany her, I finally decided to reserve a 2-day stay in Venice for her. There's a direct train from Dijon to Venice so it's really easy to organize (thanks Lovelyn for the helpful infos).

Hope she will enjoy her stay here in Venice Dijon. She's also hoping that our next vacation destination would be Mexico but that could still wait till the second baby learns how to walk :).

*Our Mexican friend was in fact my classmate at the French Language School 6 years ago. She stayed with us in our former appartment for 2 months when after school, she was able to bag a training contract in their satellite office here in Dijon. She was always with us in all our gimiks including bonfire camping with the barkada, a visit in Paris, an itinerary hike in the mountains of Jura when our French language skills were at its minimum (just the 2 of us), etc. We really had great time together. Inspite the distance, we were still able to keep the friendship alive. I'm sure, once we're again on vacation mode, Mexico would be considered seriously.

Busy Week Ahead.. Again!

Posted by Analyse at 1:19 PM

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I thought my maternity leave could mean relaxing vacation but in reality, I had been real busy since last week. Louna's schedule, 8:45 am to 11:45 am everyday except Wednesdays doesn't really give me ample time to window shop or just lazy around as there's lunch to prepare and Louna to bring and fetch from school. Afternoon means siesta for Louna and Maman when I feel tired so I'm kinda blocked.

This week, I have 2 appointments with the midwife for the birthing classes and one of them requires Frenchguy's presence. So where do we leave Louna?

This evening, a Mexican friend of mine is coming over for a week vacation (she was my classmate at the French language school 6 years ago). Honestly, we have no idea how we could make her stay memorable considering my condition unless she witness me giving birth, lol. I wanted to organize something for her but I don't know what she planned during her stay with us, will she stay with us in that one whole week or will she visit other friends? She talked about visiting small villages around Dijon but I have no idea what place I could recommend. Everything seems to be too ordinary for me now.

Frenchguy feels a bit guilty as that Mexican friend arranged everything for him when he was in Mexico City few months ago. He was really amazed by the beauty of the places they visited. But knowing Frenchguy, he's already amazed by our little barrio in the Philippines whilst I don't see anything extraordinary over there.

We're thinking about sending her some place, like Venise or Strasbourg, but I don't know if she would appreciate that we're like getting rid of her, lol. And I haven't reserved anything as I don't know if she'll have time.

Hayy, hirap. What I see now is that, she could play babysitter while we go to my different appointments with the midwife. Talking about being oportunista. Lol.

A Mom to a Pre-Schooler

Posted by Analyse at 6:51 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Today is Louna's first day at the pre-school. The night before, we were able to let her pronounce her teacher's name which is Barbara. The next day, everybody was up quite early, too excited maybe to prepare ourselves for the first day. Even Frenchguy took his morning off to experience this special milestone with Louna.

Arriving there, some kids already started crying while Louna stared at them, holding our hands, quite teary-eyed herself. She was probably thinking if crying was SOP. Does she have to cry too? Then she started to try the new toys around, then moved from one table to another. She was even able to talk to another girl and asked her if she could take the toy camera. Then she started taking pictures till it was time for us to leave.

Teacher B took her hand trying to assure her that everything will be alright. She cried silently when we left. But like a spy, we peeked on the window before we left. There, she was already mingling with other kids. She in fact stopped crying in no time.

She was already smiling when we went back to fetch her. First day was a promise of a fruitful school year. Parents had worried faces when they brought their kids to school. But all those worried faces were replaced by happy faces, excited to know how their kids fared. My, still can't believe I'm one of those parents.

Private vs Public School

We've chosen to enroll her at a private school. So ok, alright. I have been constantly complaining of the amount we're paying for our taxes and how few of those euros we put in the government's pocket we get in return. And now that we get the chance to profit of those contributions by enrolling Louna at a public school, we've deliberately chosen to register her at a private school. Why?

- because with this strike-infested country, we're afraid we find ourselves hostage of this national malady. With the kind of work schedule we have, we can't afford to be absent because the teacher is on strike.
- because the principal at the public school didn't give us a good impression whilst the principal at the private school showed motivation and dynamism - a certain level of competitiveness which was a deciding factor for us.
- because we registered Louna on both schools and whilst we had all the information from the private school, we don't even know if Louna is indeed enrolled at the public school. We had no news.
- because smile is somewhat easier to give in that private school than in the public school (at least that's what I observed).

School Fees

I have written an entry on how school fees (and the cost of living in general) in the Philippines are extremely unproportional to the minimum wage of the Filipinos, wherein I got varied comments ranging from ok lang to grabe, sobra nga. I even expressed my sentiments on how we make education inaccessible to most of the Filipinos, and that alone is a start of discrimination.

This raging sentiment is fired up by the fact that if I were an engineer in the Philippines gaining an average salary as practiced today, most probably, I won't be able to send my kids to Mapua, my alma mater. Depressing, right?

Here in France, Frenchies complain about their prevailing system which for me remains reasonable. Well, they complain all the time, anyway. Let me illustrate:

For a private pre-school here in Dijon, we will pay 414€ (P28,040 at 1€ = P67.73) for a year fee distributed as follows:

Yearly Tuition Fee : 282€
Sport Activities : 58.5€
Inscription Fee : 47€
Catechism Contribution : 26.5€

Now, stop converting to Peso. Be factual. Minimum daily wage in France amounts to 60.79€ (1321.02€/month) for a 35h/week legal duration. A yearly fee at a private pre-school would represent less than 7 days of work.

Minimum daily wage in the Philippines amounts to P345 - P382 (~P10,000/month). Did I hear P100,000 yearly fee at a private pre-school still considered cheap in the Philippines? Well, at that rate, a yearly fee at a private school would represent 10 months of work in the Philippines.

Logical? Think again.

The Long Road to Being French

Posted by Analyse at 8:26 AM

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Quite a lot of people around me ask why I don't request for the French nationality yet to which I reply I dont feel the need to be French.. yet. At work, I could go to most of the destinations without a visa. Or if needed, visas are easier to obtain from here anyway. I already used my 10-year US tourist visa to go to work without any problem.

But vacations start to be restraint because of my green passport. I need to prepare everything in advance (in destinations where I need a visa) whilst I could play my luck with last minute reservations which are cheaper most of the time.

So I fixed my objective. I need to file my application for naturalization during my maternity leave. And so I went yesterday. With me is a 1-cm-thick file comprising:

- Cerfa n°12753*01 : Request for Acquisition of French Nationality by Naturalization / Reintegration in 2 copies
- Photocopy of valid Resident Card
- NBI clearance : legalized and translated by the Philippine Embassy in Paris at 20€/page
- 2 ID pictures 35x40 mm with name and date of birth written at the back
- Birth Certificate (moi + my parents) : Original + photocopy, legalized and translated by the Philippine Embassy in Paris at 20€/page
- Photocopy of my passport + all pages with stamp
- PACS certificate : latest from Tribunal des Grandes Instances de Paris
- Birth Certificate of Louna
- Photocopy of Passport: Louna and Frenchguy
- Health record of Louna (vaccination)
- Certificate of Ownership (Acte de propriéte) + EDF/GDF bills
- Academic Certificate - Louna
- Job certificate
- Job contract
- Payslip for the last 3 months + payslip for the month of December for the last 3 years
- Diploma which I obtained here in France
- CAF certificate : any monthly financial aide obtained from government organizations
- Certificate of Tax on Revenu for the last 3 years
- Fiscal Situation Statement (revenu, propriétary and resident taxes) for the last 3 years obtained from trésor Public

But married individuals have other requirements to file. Please check out this site if you're interested.

As for my application, I was told that my file won't be opened in a few months. No surprises. My colleague has just obtained her French nationality after 2 years. She was interviewed prior to the obtention of her papers but apparently, the questions were the same as what I had during the obtention of my 10-year resident card which I wrote here. And future applicants, don't worry, you won't sing La Marseillaise.

PS: Ma Crèche Privée has just been updated - 8th Month Visit.