Okay, better late than never.
At the beginning of August, we drove down to Wuppertal to my sister Jennifer, her husband Kay, and their baby son Jakob. “We” being my sisters, our children and spouses, and my father; my stepmother was, unfortunately, in hospital and couldn't come.
However, since she couldn’t come, Stella, Amy, and I fit into my father’s car, and so we ended up taking the car there. (We had initially contemplated taking the train there, which I think tends to work out better for longer trips with little children since you can move around more.) My father’s car has got a snazzy navigation system which guided us to my sister's place without a hitch.
We had a kind of family get-together on the Saturday afternoon with cake and drinks. I got to hold Jakob; he seemed so light compared to Amy! Not to mention small. I'm sure he'll overtake Amy before too long :) More on that later, though.
In the evening, we got into the car again and my father drove us to another family who would be putting us three up for the night, then going on to Kay’s parents where he would be staying. This is where the aforementioned snazzy navigation system showed that it knew every nook and cranny in Germany… including forest paths. It ended up directing us down a road with a red-circle-on-white sign saying “no through traffic”; we went on instead and quickly found ourselves in the forest, driving on dirt roads. Amazingly, though, whenever the navigation system told us to make a turn or expect a crossing, there was one, so we kept on going—until we could see the main road we were supposed to join. However, just before the end of the forest road were two metal poles intended to stop cars from passing, so we had to back up and turn around somehow, then go back through the forest and take a different route (ignoring two attempts by the navigation system to send us back into the forest on other roads). Nice try, and it would have been shorter, but not much point if we can't get past the poles!
But we got to Seutes in the end, who were very nice to us. We had a little room right on the top floor beneath the roof, with two beds for us.
On Sunday, we went to church, where Kay gave his son his name and a blessing; my other brothers-in-law, my father, and I also put our hands beneath the baby. I stayed with Amy during Primary while she played with the other children; not all of them were strangers to her, though, since Ireen’s two children were also there.
A while back, part of a tooth broke right off while I was eating cereal; it was one where I had had a root canal earlier and so I suppose it wasn't quite as strong as a tooth that's still alive. I went to the dentist, who said that while I didn’t need to do anything about it just then, I should get a crown for the tooth fairly soon, so I made two appointments.
In the first one, they removed the amalgam filling and prepared the tooth. This involved using ultraviolet light to harden something or other, and one could see blue light from the lamp as well. (I mused to myself that I could call this “Mit Blaulicht beim Zahnarzt”—a play on words on “Mit Blaulicht zum Krankenhaus” (to the hospital with bluelight, the bluelight in question being the one on top of an ambulance (or, in other contexts, a police car)).)
They put in a temporary crown with temporary cement. I was pretty scared when I saw something dark come out of my mouth and go down the drain the first night when I brushed my teeth; I feared it was the temporary crown since it had gone by too quickly for me to see it properly. Also, I felt a kind of dent in my teeth on that side.
However, it was probably just a piece of food, since the temporary was still in place when I went to the dentist again, and the dent was due to the fact that the tooth there had had a part broken off and that had been reflected in the mould they made.
I ended up going to the dentist not on Tuesday, when I had made the appointment, but on the previous Friday; I had got a phone call from my wife who said that the dentist would be in hospital for that week and, if possible, we should try to get the final crown in on Thursday or Friday so that I wouldn't have to wait another week (or possibly longer). So I ended up leaving Wolfsburg on Thursday evening (after grappling with Subversion, trying to merge my changes back into the trunk, and finding some mistakes while deploying the changes I made to the test servers) and going to the dentist on Friday morning.
They removed the temporary and put in the final crown. The dentist had to file it down a bit since it stood up higher than the neighbouring teeth and it was a bit annoying to bite down on it. In the end, though, it fit well.
The outside face is “tooth colour”, while the biting and inside faces are a gold alloy; I decided I needn’t get an all-white crown since (a) it's on the top, where you don't notice it as much, (b) I've got darkish fillings on the top anyway, so it’s not as if it’d completely disrupt a row of pearly whites, and (c) it’s cheaper. They matched the colour for the side pretty well to my existing teeth; I couldn’t tell which one was the crown after they had put it in, at least, not from just looking at it.
The dentist told me that after an hour or two, I could start using it just like any other tooth, and needn’t be specially careful or “hold back”. That was a weird feeling, though, after ten days of using that side very gingerly, both to stop the temporary from coming out (since it was in longer than planned) and because I wasn't sure whether the temporary had come off and I was biting on the tooth stump. But I'm getting used to it.
The quip for this visit is that people can now call me “Morgenstund”—a play on words on the German saying, “Morgenstund hat Gold in Mund” (the morning hour has gold in its mouth), roughly equivalent, perhaps, to “strike while the iron is hot” or “the early bird catches the worm”.
I’ll also have to get an existing crown in the lower left side replaced; a corner of the crown had chipped off and the dentist had recommended for quite a while that it get replaced eventually. Now I have to consider whether I want to get the replacement crown all in white or all-metal (just one side in white, as with the top, is apparently not done in that position, since the tooth is a bit further back).
For vanity reasons, I think I’d prefer white, since the bottom row of teeth is more visible when you open your mouth (and I have no fillings on the bottom row). However, white would cost me about €440, while gold would cost me about €300, so about €140 more mostly for looks, which my wife says she’s not happy about paying for.
I suppose I could cough up the difference from pocket money, but that’s quite a bit to spend if it hurts “my” money rather than “our” money, since our individual allowances aren’t that large (it’d be more than three months’ allowance for me). So I’m still uncertain what to do about that tooth. Though perhaps I should feel lucky that I'm paying mostly for the material and that my insurance is covering the actual work; according to Wikipedia,
The cost of applying a crown in the US can range from $600 to $3,100, depending on what materials are used. [… T]he time-consuming process of the operation is one reason for the high cost.
Amy had her seventh scheduled checkup this week. (In Germany, there is a series of nine examinations for children at specific points in their life, from birth until they’re five or so, spaced more closely at first and getting further apart as the children get older, in order for a pædiatrician to evaluate the development of the child and find potential problems early. U7 is recommended to take place between the 21st and 24th month, or just before a child’s second birthday.)
We were a bit worried about what the doctor would think about Amy—especially her size and her weight, since she had always been small for her age and light for her size. Stella is fairly small, too, so perhaps it’s not that surprising, but she says that when she was an infant, she was taller than Amy at a given age.
At any rate, the doctor didn’t seem worried; her height–weight ratio had approached the 50% line a bit compared to the last measurement, though her size on the graph of size against age now dropped below the 3% line for the first time. Amy is now officially “small”, I suppose. (She was measured at 79.5 cm [31¼ in or 2'7¼"] and just under 10 kg [just under 22 lb]; Stella had hoped in vain that she’d make it to the 80-cm/31½-inch mark in time for the appointment.)
Her mental and motor development was pretty much on track—except for her speech. The pædiatrician tacitly assumed that Amy was producing two-word sentences already and asked whether she produced any multi-word sentences yet, and we had to tell her that even two-word sentences were pretty rare for her (and I don't think I’ve heard a multi-word sentence from her yet). However, she asked whether Amy was being raised bilingually, and upon being told yes, she didn’t worry about that. Phew. (Especially since I was not about to cut out speaking English to her.)