Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year in Review

Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye. It was a busy one this year, with the usual round of dinners and parties and spending time with both sides of the family on Christmas Eve and Day. The week between Christmas and New Year's flew by equally fast, with time spent seeing old friends from far away and new ones closer to home. 

Little A, at barely 18 months, coped quite well with the social whirl, and has now moved his internal clock so that he sleeps well past midnight and wakes up mid-morning. Hopefully we can readjust to more reasonable hours when the New Year begins.

Another year has gone by. 12 months, retrospect, can be summarized as follows:

The Good - 
- our health; may it continue to be good in the years to come.
- two trips to Hong Kong and one to the mountains with the family.
- witnessing Little A's growth from a 6 month crawler to an 18 month old toddler.
- my husband's job, which made our bank balance healthier even as it kept him away from his family much of the time.

The Not-so-Good - (though each has a silver lining)
- not being able to bring in any income this past year. 
- my husband losing his job, though the amount he was paid in severance will keep us afloat for many months, and now he spends much more time with us.
- not being able to spend much time with friends, though this was time spent with my son.

While 2009 may look bleak in terms of the world financial situation, we can do our part for ourselves and the world by being more generous, less selfish, more eco-friendly and less materialistic. Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby Teeth

Two days before Christmas, I took my son to the dentist for the first time in his almost 18 months of existence. The reason? My little boy has a cavity.

A cavity - something I never had until I was 28 years old, with a second appearing only last year. Both were so minor that they hardly needed drilling or filling. My husband's teeth are equally hardy. Yet our 18 month old son who was breastfed from birth, has never had formula and dislikes sweets, has a cavity. I can hardly believe it.

Compared to other babies, his teeth came late. The first 4 appeared just 3 weeks before his first birthday, at the rate of one a week. His molars have yet to erupt. Other kids his age have mouths full of teeth already. The pediatrician prescribed fluoride drops when he was 10 months old, but my dad said he'd read that too much fluoride in the system was like poison, so I stopped giving it to him (without doing any background reading on the matter myself, tsk tsk.)

Another dentist said that breastfed babies have very strong teeth since they get a lot of calcium. A pediatric dentist friend said babies should be taken for their first checkup shortly after their first birthday. My sister said there was no need to take my son for a dental checkup until he had all his milk teeth. So many different words of advice!

Brushing-wise, I would rub my son's gums with a washcloth from 5 months onwards or so. He would also watch us brush our teeth and copy us with his little toothbrush. Once his teeth started coming out though, I noticed a yellowish stain on the top left one, near the bottom, that wouldn't rub off. He became more active and then it was more difficult to brush his teeth, especially since he wouldn't open his mouth willingly. So I haven't been able to brush them as thoroughly as I would like, and the idea of flossing, which I'd read should be done as soon as teeth come out if they are close together, which my son's are, is an impossible dream at this stage.

Still, I consoled myself with the fact that he didn't drink formula, dislikes ice cream, cakes and cookies, and only started on graham crackers last month, plus comes from two parents with very healthy teeth, to make up for the lack of thorough brushing. Big mistake.

Last weekend, since Little A had a cold, he napped with his mouth slightly open to help him breathe. My husband, who takes the time when our son is still (only when he is asleep, in our case) to examine him closely, noticed that there was a chip on his tooth. I looked and saw that there was a small hole where the enamel had completely gone. Despite my resolve to be more vigilant about brushing, a black spot in the hole a few days later prompted the immediate trip to the dentist, whose office is just downstairs on the ground floor of our condominium building.

There is little one can do to examine a crying baby's 8 teeth. With the help of a pair of nurses to hold him down, the dentist just looked at the teeth and said the best we could do was brush twice a day, religiously, and start using a fluoride toothpaste. Apparently, fluoride drops are to help with the calcification of permanent molars, which begins when a child is 6 months up to 3 years of age. Right. Back to fluoride drops then. Fluorinated toothpaste is to help coat the actual teeth and make them stronger.

We're scheduled for a second visit in 3 months, when they start "proper" dental care. By then Little A will be 20 months old. Let's hope he's learned to sit still by then, and will open his mouth and say "Aaah."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jingle Bells

The days are rushing by so quickly I can barely catch my breath. Seven days and it's Christmas. Another Christmas. Where did the year go? A blink of an eye and it will be 2009.

These days, Little A's 2 hour naptimes, which is usually my time to eat, do household-related chores and sit quietly in front of a laptop for a little while have been turned over to organising Christmas presents. Checking the list, over and over again, and the budget, online browsing and shopping (thank heavens for this!), and this week, wrapping presents.

Given the limited space in our small flat, Little A's wardrobe has turned into gift central. A box and many large carrier bags now house presents waiting to be boxed, wrapped or ribboned and sent off to their destinations.

Ever the green gift-giver, my presents for this year range from wonderful organic soaps and wooden soap dishes, adorable recyclable shopping bags made from flour sacks to wooden or educational toys and native sweets. Wrapping is minimal and, where possible, reusable.

It is my son's second Christmas, but he still isn't at the materialistic stage, thankfully, and only sees presents as colorful boxes to play with for a little while. What he does enjoy is taking ornaments off the tree and rolling them on the floor. I, on the other hand, am loving the food presents from friends and relatives. My husband is enjoying the time off work to catch up with friends, play golf, and spend plenty of time with his family. Truly, it is these simple pleasures that are making our Christmas season a merry one. May everyone and their families be similarly blessed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Squeezing the Creative Juice

I was a highly imaginative child. My most often played games involved packing up changes of clothes for my favorite doll and running through the backyard to somewhere far far away where we would start new lives together. (How watching Sesame Street inspired these types of make-believe scenarios is a mystery, but there you go.) Later, I would read books and imagine myself as one of the characters, thereby necessitating the writing of alternative endings or sequels.

Some of my favourite writers are those who can continually create new worlds, because the very ability to do so is something that seems to disappear as we get older, the way seeing fairies and sprites as a youngster goes away when we immerse ourselves more and more in the "real" world. It amazes me how grown-ups can keep their imaginations so active, making up entire new existences, characters and events.

That said, I do believe real life is more interesting than fiction, particularly considering those whose lives inspire books and movies (though they are often highly embellished by the time they hit the big screen.) It was my own real-life events that had me writing in diaries over the years and starting this blog.

Still, I feel my imagination has been stifled as a result of over 3 decades of real life. Where it used to be as easy as breathing to write a completely fictitious story, I now find myself hard-pressed to make up an interesting enough bedtime tale for my young son.

Even harder is having to produce fiction for money. After nearly 2 years of not writing anything besides grocery lists and this blog, I suddenly had to come up with material for a press release on very short notice. Suddenly, crafting a unique spin on high end luxury products was more difficult than making up an imaginary world, plot and characters.

Deadline past, the material was submitted. Hopefully it passes muster as approval for publication means the first (albeit modest) bit of income I have brought to the table in over 18 months. In the meantime, I will lose myself in the worlds of Neil Gaiman and Enid Blyton in the vain hopes that my imagination starts to work again in time to make up decent stories for playtime when my son is old enough to appreciate them.