A FIVE YEAR CELEBRATIONOctober 14, 2012 by Victoria
Gwendolyn tends to celebrate her birthday for several weeks -- and this year is no exception. She is still opening presents and cards (she likes to appreciate each gift before moving on to the next so it takes some time). And she is still feeling quite the Birthday Queen.
On Gwendolyn's actual birthday, which fell on a Thursday, she went to school. This is the first year she's spent her day doing something normal. In the past we have been at Disneyland or an aquarium but there was no way Miss G was skipping out on all the special birthday kindergarten activities. Bill and I woke the princess with singing her happy birthday, then got her dressed in an outfit she selected, and then carried her through a wall of pink streamers on her way to her chariot which was covered in pink streamers too.
When we arrived at school she was immediately greeted with happy birthdays and proudly pranced up the front of the class to be the special helper for the day. She got to lead the calendar time, she got to go to the office to turn in the attendance and was given a special sparkly pencil, she got to wear a purple birthday crown, she got to lead the music class in the train dance, she got to pick a book and prize from her teacher's special birthday collection, and she felt on top of her 5-year-old world! The favorite of the day was when the whole class gathered on the rug to sing her happy birthday. Before singing, the teacher had students think of a birthday wish they wanted to share with Gwendolyn (and this is when I had to bite my lips so I didn't lose it). Gwendolyn pulled the names of four students who said:
"I wish Gwendolyn has a special day in kindergarten class today."
"I wish Gwendolyn has a loving home."
"I wish Gwendolyn will feel better,"
"I wish Gwendolyn gets a new pet."
And then in unison all the students shouted out different birthday wishes for Gwendolyn and then they sang a big Happy Birthday to her. Gwendolyn didn't stop tapping her fingers the entire day.
When we got home we were greeted by the most amazing birthday messages, videos, photos, and comments. After a well deserved nap the birthday girl had us read each one to her, show her every picture, and she nodded or said, "Guh" in appreciation. The water works started again for me while reading some of the thoughtful messages to her to which she gave me the "MOM!" exacerbated sound and I quickly pulled myself together. What a grown up girl we have now.
On Saturday we had a small party for Gwendolyn -- on a sail boat! This is what Gwendolyn specifically chose. She has now been sailing four times in her life, most recently this summer, and I think we have a little sea maiden on our hands. She helped me select invitations with a whale on them, she had little whales on her cupcakes, and each guest was given their own sailor hat embroidered with their name on it. Gwendolyn was really excited about her party and was so content the whole time. It was so sweet to see the children holding Gwendolyn's hands, making sure she saw the sea lions and the pelicans, and surrounding her with love. It could not have been a more gorgeous day -- sun shining, cool breeze blowing, and, with mimosas in hand, even the busy parents got to relax a bit.
We spent the rest of the day with Gramma and GrandPa -- and Gwendolyn loved being the center of attention. When Gwendolyn woke up from her nap we all went out to dinner together and Gwendolyn loved toasting to herself with her Shirley Temple. (Adults drank a special wine -- one that we received as a gift on the day Gwendolyn was born.)
On Sunday we headed to the Santa Barbara Polo fields for one of the last matches of the season. We had never been before and it seemed like a great way to end the birthday weekend for our horse-loving little one. Gwendolyn loved getting dressed up in her new pumpkin dress and insisted on bringing her sparkly purse. (She cracks me up.) We had a cabana so Gwendolyn was happy lounging under the tent shade with GrandPa. At one point the horses jumped over the divider and her eyes got huge as these big horses came close -- they are much, much, much bigger than Little Star The players dropped the polo ball so Gwendolyn had fun tossing that back and forth with Daddy. She dozed off briefly in the warm shade and GrandPa kept on eye on her while we stomped the divots with our friends Mike and Sarah.
Although I got choked up a few times, this birthday -- this miracle 5th birthday -- felt light, felt good, felt joyous. It didn't feel heavy or bittersweet as it sometimes has in the past. A milestone like a 5th birthday in the SMA world is a gift -- and we feel such enormous gratitude. We are completely humbled by the support, love, and kindness you all continue to show our family. We feel so fortunate to have such good people in our lives. We are thankful for the new school community who is embracing Gwendolyn with open arms. And we are so very grateful for our determined young lady, for all that she is, for all she is becoming, and for her passionate enthusiasm for life. We are looking forward to celebrating this amazing 5th year all year long as Gwendolyn continues to be our guide.