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Birthday, Birthday, Birthday and Gratitude

October 01, 2010 by Victoria Strong

Only a few more days until little Miss Sparkle's BIG day! And it is definitely birthday madness around here. Every day more cards, packages, and $36 for 36 Months donations arrive from all the amazing people who love our little princess. (THANK YOU! THANK YOU!) We are busily organizing our trip to Disneyland -- yes, DISNEYLAND -- and know Gwendolyn is going to be so beyond over the moon! Gramma, GrandPa, Aunt Kristen and Uncle Richard will be joining us for part of the time -- and that alone will make Gwendolyn's trip! And we are so, so, SO, SO excited that the wonderful Calafiore family will be joining us, too!!! Sweet Hayden Calafiore is such a special friend to Gwendolyn and I know getting to see princesses, Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse and all the other exciting visual overload with Hayden is going to be extra special -- and between the two families, we are arranging some pretty extra special things for the girls. And it feels comforting to be navigating all of this with another SMA family (and one who has been there before).

Yesterday we got a wonderful birthday surprise from Linda of My Bunny and Me. She sent Gwendolyn her very own bunny embroidered with the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation logo on one ear and "Gwendolyn" on the other ear. And it is absolutely adorable! She also sent her a special blanket with her name embroidered on it, which Gwendolyn immediately insisted on using as her comfy blanket under her. It even matches her room - green, pink, and brown! (For a limited time Linda is generously offering this satin backed blanket at a discount for all GSF supporters ($29.95 instead of $48)! Don't forget to enter the My Bunny and Me giveaway for your own big cozy GSF bunny -- it ends tomorrow!) And then to end the day our wonderful hospice nurse, Laura, gave Gwendolyn a princess bucket full of princess dolls! Gwendolyn was so adorable and serious about them all. She wanted to change their clothes, hold them, put them in the bucket, take them out of the bucket, and then make them dance to...of course...princess music! One thing is very clear -- Gwendolyn KNOWS it s her birthday. She totally gets it this year. When we say are you almost 2 -- she giggles. When we say are you almost 3 -- she proudly smiles and says, "Ga!" (aka Yes!)

Yesterday we also had Gwendolyn's IEP (Individualized Education Program, i.e. plan for preschool and how her special needs will be accommodated). We sat in our living room with 15 different people (Team Gwendolyn is growing!) -- some who have known Gwendolyn since she was just 6-months-old and some we are just beginning to know. But all of them recognize her bright spirit and thirst for experiences and are advocating right alongside us to find creative ways to provide Gwendolyn the highest quality of life. And what more can a parent hope for than to have others believe in your child?

We have had so much going on -- all really, really amazing stuff -- that our heads have been spinning a bit. But even with the many irons in many different fires, we are so, so appreciative of the people in our life and all that they do for us and Gwendolyn. The continued kindness of others, the constant support, and the general desire to help and see good things come our way leaves us speechless -- and to say we are humbled is putting it lightly. It makes us pause, take a step back, and reflect on how fortunate we are to have such extraordinary people in our lives -- and how Gwendolyn's life is all the richer for it.

Since Gwendolyn's SMA diagnosis birthdays have always made us reflect, but this one feels different. In the past we always celebrated (in a big way), but it was also bittersweet knowing that her birthdays were limited. And while that hasn't changed, now, over these last few months, as we prepare for preschool, as she gains independence in a power chair, as she becomes so very clear in what she wants out of her life, bittersweet doesn't seem to define this birthday celebration. It simply feels...sweet.

Disney here we come! Hope you are ready for us!

Talk About It

Go Gwendolyn!!! Victoria, your posts almost always leave me hanging out in a puddle.... you inspire me and your sweet girl well she just plain knocks me out! This is going to be such a special special birthday. Your so right our turning 3 kiddos seem to go from babies to big kids overnight. Those little wheels in their brains are so thirsty. Such smart little ones..... I can't wait to hear Gwendolyn's great adventure and princess experience! As school house rock sings "3 is a magic number, yes it is".....
Posted by Penny on 2010-10-01 09:58:28
I can't imagine that there is a single soul who can read about Miss G's birthday plans and not feel insanely giddy!!! Wishing Gwendolyn a birthday weekend/MONTH full of princesses smile 'Lucy'
Posted by Helen on 2010-10-01 10:27:14
Oh let the good times roll! smile So happy for you that the preschool experience is off to a positive start! Preschool is going to be amazing and kudos to the educators who are going to enrich and provide such a wonderful opportunity for Miss G! And to you V and B for encouraging G to go to preschool and learn all there is to learn about this great big, beautiful world! Enjoy Disney---can't wait to see the pictures---it will be so amazing and such great memories with another wonderful family. OK, I think I have overused the word wonderful now....LOL...enjoy enjoy enjoy... Happy 3RD Birthday Miss Gwendolyn! lots of hugs from Matthew, Sidney and Sophie smile be well, Lisa smile
Posted by Lisa Prokopetz on 2010-10-01 10:33:08
your posts always bring a tear to my eye... but in a good way. xo
Posted by Barbra Mousouris on 2010-10-01 10:54:08
Sooo exciting!!! Have a GREAT birthday Gwendolyn!!!! We will be thinking of she and sending our love down to Anaheim!!! smile
Posted by Eva Turenchalk on 2010-10-01 15:46:20
Yippeeee!!! The little one will be going to Disneyland!!! Yehey!!!! Can't wait to see more photos. Hugs to you Gwendolyn.
Posted by Jhari on 2010-10-01 18:51:59
Victoria, I am smiling from ear to ear! I am so excited for you all and I can't wait to see the pictures. You have all been so busy lately, a Disney experience is well deserved. We are celebrating with you from a far! Have a great time, and Happy Birthday G!
Posted by Jaime Gooden on 2010-10-02 07:31:20
We are thrilled to be spending this trip with you're family. It gives us so much joy to be able to watch the girls experience Disneyland together. Doesn't every child want their best friend on their vacations?! Can't wait to see you guys! It's going to be sweet, sweet, sweet! P.S. Love the Disneyland sign picture! ;o) What other way would you welcome princesses?!
Posted by Jennifer Calafiore on 2010-10-02 09:17:17
Have a wonderful time in the magical world o Disneyland. Gwendolyn will b over the moon by it all and I can't wait to see photos of the three of you making happy memoies together. Have lot of fun. --Mari
Posted by Mari aka "Thorney" on 2010-10-03 20:35:03

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