Monday, June 20, 2005

The Sylvi Learning Center

The 19 Minutes staff puts out a regular e-mail update to keep fans of 1-year old Sylvi abreast of important events in her life, such as her first steps (still pending), her first word ("Daddy", which I'll grant you is a little unfair to the person who stays home with her most days), and eating eggs (fried). The one-year update went out last week, and someone suggested I add it to the blog. We'll do that, because this will save us from having to come up with all-new material. Some of it will look a little recycled, and still more of it will look a little uninteresting, but here it is. I will, however, add a few items just to spice it up for those of you who are loyal subscribers to both publications:

Good evening Sylvi fans and innocent bystanders…

June 9th is proving to be an annual medical care day around the Teich household. This year, the 9th fell four days after Sylvi endured her first fun-filled stomach flu. That night, she demonstrated her command of sharing by thoughtfully passing the stomach bug on to both her parents – within a few hours of each other.

Now, flash back to last June 9th: Mitch and Gretchen finish putting together their to-that-point-hypothetical Diaper Champ and head out for a spontaneous trip to Dairy Queen, to satiate a pregnancy-driven desire for a banana shake. The chocolate ice cream machine is out of order, so Mitch is still muttering when they get home – at least until they get one step inside the door, at which point Gretchen’s water breaks, meaning the chocolate ice cream issue no longer seems quite as important, or at least not for a few days.

Since that fateful return home from DQ, the following events have taken place:

Mitch runs around in unproductive little circles when he can’t think of what to pack for the hospital.

Gretchen commences labor, which lasts for 20 hours, and results in a 3-minute delivery.

Despite the 3-minute delivery, Mitch and Gretchen opt to name their daughter Sylvi, rather than “FedEx”.

Sylvi, born 5 weeks early, spends 12 days in the Special Care Nursery at Flagstaff Medical Center, where – among other things – she learns to eat, takes her first sponge bath, has her first experience with suppositories, and then is hastily given her second sponge bath.

She comes home June 22nd, but still must use an oxygen tank, thanks to Flagstaff’s 7,000 foot elevation. The large green oxygen tank becomes a key part of the living room décor over the next six weeks, showing up in all the fashionable home decorating magazines and inspiring the television program “Extreme Makeover: Large Oblong Medical Equipment Edition”. After Sylvi is freed of the need to use supplemental oxygen, Mitch and Gretchen keep the tank in the living room for several more weeks, in case they need the extra air themselves after changing too many diapers.

Sylvi learns to roll over from front to back by the time she’s three months old. This is a good thing, except that it’s another two months before she can figure out how to flip back to the other side.

Around this time she develops the strange bald spot on the back of her head, meaning her hair pattern is exactly the opposite of her dad's.

She also becomes a big fan of the classic hit by the Tokens, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, which she demonstrates by listening to it 43 million times, beating out her number two favorite, “Little Red Caboose”, by 26,000 plays.

Her #3 favorite song is a Finnish pop tune called "Villiviini", whose name translates to "Wild Vine/Virginia Creeper" (really) and features the following actual lyrics, which have thoughtfully been translated into English:

Wild vine on the wall is one meter higher
Wild vine on the wall is one meter higher

I have been a long time away from home
And I can't find the switch in the kitchen
Sylvi takes her first airplane trips – to and from the Washington, DC area. In what is taken for a positive sign, she is not barred from flying Southwest Airlines again. In an unrelated development, Southwest bookings between Phoenix and Baltimore drop 98 percent. She attends her first wedding, which she enjoys quite a bit, and her first pre-wedding dinner, which she likes, uh, less. She also visits her first museum, which she likes even less than her first pre-wedding dinner.

November marks a Very Sylvi Thanksgiving in Colorado, which comes after a Very Long Car Ride. Sylvi actually does pretty well, thanks to 23,000 playings of “Free to Be You and Me” for her and 74 bags of Funyuns for her dad.

Tragically, the Big Green Oxygen Tank has long been returned to Dan the Oxygen Man, or Sylvi could have decorated it for the holidays. But she has a swell Chanukmas, anyway, building up her stockpiles of blocks, stuffed animals, and clothes with built-in feet.

Sylvi’s first winter features a snowdrift roughly 12 times taller than her. She has trouble walking through the snow, but mostly because she hasn’t started walking yet.

She starts on “solid” foods such as carrots and squash in winter, turning her nose a festive orange, matching her dad’s Funyun-yellow ears.

To get ready for her trip to Tucson in March, Sylvi takes swimming lessons.

Naturally, the temperature never climbs above 60 in Tucson. But her parents take plenty of pictures, just in case “BabyTalk” magazine decides to publish a swimsuit issue.

BabyTalk doesn't call, but "Sports Illustrated" inquires about Sylvi's availability in 2027, triggering Mitch's weekly rant about the lack of respect given to women's sports. He calms down when it's pointed out Sylvi could appear in SI after winning her Olympic medals.

Crawling becomes a major part of Sylvi’s life in the spring, meaning back problems become a major part of her mom and dad’s life. Home child-proofing commences, a task made more difficult by the fact that all the local stores sell baby-proofing supplies apparently made for homes in Flagstaff, Bulgaria, because they appear to bear no relation to the childproofing issues we're dealing with.

Sylvi adds more foods to her repertoire, though does her best never to like the same food two days in a row, just to keep her mom guessing.

Sylvi meets her little friend Maja in May, and Maja promptly teaches Sylvi how to get to all the areas of the house that haven’t been baby-proofed yet.

Most recently, Sylvi celebrates her first birthday in a joint party a week early with her friend Phoebe. They celebrate with pumpkin cupcakes, which Sylvi -- for inexplicable reasons – has no interest in eating. This is especially interesting, considering she’s more than happy to try tasting the suds from her bubble bath.

It’s also probably just as well, because Sylvi comes down with the aforementioned (remember that first paragraph?) stomach flu a day later.

The upside to the stomach flu is that it clears her mind *and* her digestive system, as she – within a day – figures out how to wave on command, signal that she’s “soooo big”, identify people’s noses, and clap her hands. Her parents, hoping *they’ll* get a little smarter, try the stomach flu on for size four days later. It doesn’t work. In fact, judging from the fact they decided to eat cheeseburgers the next day, they may have gotten a little dumber.

She attends the Special Care Nursery Alumni picnic, where she meets up with the nurse dubbed “The Suppository Lady” (known as "Sarah" to the rest of the human population). Surprisingly, Sylvi immediately reaches out to hug her. Best of all, her diaper stays clean and no sponge bath is necessary.

Sarah is redubbed "The Necklace Lady" thanks to a pendant that occupies all of Sylvi's mental energy for 15 or 20 minutes.

Sylvi has her one-year check-up, and is given clearance to eat whatever she wants. In the two days since, she’s tried pizza (thumbs up), strawberries (a big affirmative), and peanut butter (an excellent hair treatment).

Books go from being a food source to being actual reading material. "Doggies", by Sandra Boynton, hits the top of the Sylvi Book Club, gathering an amazing 725 consecutive readings. In one sitting.

In her first year, she’s gone from 4 lbs., 10 oz. and 17 inches long, to 17 lbs., 10 oz., and 27 ¼ inches tall. She’s changed from a cute little wad of a baby to a cute little girl. And she’s gone from objecting to having her nose vacuumed out to, well, still objecting to having her nose vacuumed out.

The initial e-mail concluded with some vaguely mushy stuff, so we'll just edit it short.

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