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Good Things: Monterey Bay Aquarium With Hayden

December 17, 2010 by Victoria Strong

Oh we have some pretty big "good things" this week with numero uno being that Gwendolyn is doing well! We are still watching her closely and hoping napping and diet changes will boost her energy level back up. We've been taking it easy since we got home and "Nap Boot Camp" has officially started. I'd like to say I am such an amazing Boot Camp General that she's in ship-shape because of me. And while this week naps have gone extremely well... I think she's just tired from the big weekend and early week at Stanford. We shall see... I'm bringing out the big guns: super cozy blankets, big snuggly bunny (My Bunny and Me) to cuddle, and the Rockabye Baby! Lullabies from her infant days. She will nap darn it! smile

Whenever we are feeling down or worried we try to focus on Gwendolyn -- her happiness always puts everything in perspective. And if we can, we try to take her somewhere special or do something that we don't always get to do. It's something we've done since her diagnosis. It wasn't a conscious thing, but we now know that having a family experience together really helps us cope. After we spoke with our pediatrician last week and then had a long talk with Dr. Yuan, we were feeling pretty darn worried. We knew we had to be in Palo Alto on Monday for our doctors appointment, so on a whim we booked a hotel in Monterey to spend the weekend having some family fun with our special girl. And on another whim we contacted the Calafiore family to see how spontaneous they were feeling. Luckily for us, Chris and Jennifer are super spontaneous and before we knew it, Gwendolyn and Hayden were giving each other kisses and watching movies together, while the adults enjoyed some wine and appetizers under the glow of the hotel Christmas tree! We love, love, love being with Jennifer and Chris. They are such good people - kind, honest, and absolutely devoted to their daughter. Everything else pales in comparison to seeing their daughter happy and, well, we can relate. And seeing besties Hayden and Gwendolyn together just makes all of us happy -- that kind of peaceful, content, full feeling. And that was exactly what we needed!

In the morning, the girls were ready to explore! Gwendolyn has been to the Monterey Aquarium once when she was a tiny peanut and then again last year, but it was extra exciting because Hayden had never been before and there were so many new things we had never seen. We arrived just at the perfect time to get the girls front row seats to see the sharks and fish being fed by a microphoned marine biologist in full scuba gear. Gwendolyn and Hayden were so adorable waving at the diver who kindly waved back many times! We then headed to see the waves and both girls were mesmerized to sit under the glass as the waves crashed over their heads. We got to spend time at the touch pool where they felt sea weed, abalone, crab shells, and even a star fish. After lunch we explored and meandered through the black light room of jelly fish, watched the otters (one even came right up to the glass to Hayden and Gwendolyn's delight), and then were floored by the sea horse exhibit. Gwendolyn and Hayden loved being together. They were so excited by everything! And that just means the world to us.

After a big day at the aquarium we said our goodbyes, made plans for another visit soon, and headed to Stanford. We were hoping to meet up with the Lunt family for dinner or get to see them the next day, but we learned sweet Lucy was in the PICU. This certainly brought everything back to reality. Thank goodness (and this is the "good thing") Lucy is now home, though still fighting to get back to 100%. I did get to spend a few hours with Lucy and her awesome mom, Cherisse, while they were still in the PICU on Monday morning. Lucy showed me her counting, made me dance for her, and got to open overdue birthday pressies. She is such a sweetheart and I always want to just pick her up and love on her. And Cherisse is one of the most positive people I have ever known. She is so easy to talk to and so much fun to be around. And although I don't think she knew it, she gave me so much courage for what I worried I was about to face.

But...that brings me back to the numero uno good thing -- Gwendolyn is a tough little cookie and we are so, so thankful for her!

Oh, and I tried something new this time and included the photos in the video of the fun Monterey adventure....Click here or below to watch:

Talk About It

Looks like so much fun! -Mark
Posted by gettyowl on 2010-12-17 15:01:55
Oh so fun! I love your "Good Things", great idea. We wished we would have had one more day at the SMA conference because we would have LOVED to take Jonas to the aquarium. It looks so cool and Jonas would have been so mesmerized. It makes me happy to see the girls there enjoying it! Always thinking of you guys and sending our best hugs!
Posted by Lindsey Coleman on 2010-12-17 15:19:33
WOW! Amazing techno-techniques! What a wonderful day ~ Gwendolyn's eyes speak volumes....and are SO beautiful. I smiled through the whole video to see the girls and their moms and dads sharing such a great California experience!
Posted by Sheri on 2010-12-17 15:45:24
Loving it! You guys always have so, so much fun! I love it! smile Focusing on all of the "good" things makes my days that much brighter....thanks for sharing! smile sending some positive thoughts to the Lunt Family, praying for little Lucy! Be well, Lisa smile
Posted by Lisa Prokopetz on 2010-12-17 16:22:34
I am so glad you were able to share such a wonderful day with such great friends!! Thanks for sharing, great job on the video, I am not that computer savvy that is for sure! Hugs, Em
Posted by Emma on 2010-12-17 16:41:56
We love, love, love being with you guys too! When Hayden was born we promised her the world. So nothing pleases us more than to see her explore the world so happily, especially with her best bud. It really was a great weekend. How sweet it was when Gwendolyn was upset and the only thing to make her happy was to go wake Hayden up. And then how Hayden insisted on holding Gwendolyn's hand to watch their movie. I just love these girls! The aquarium is the perfect place for our kids. So much for their eyes to see. Can't wait for our next adventure!
Posted by Jennifer Calafiore on 2010-12-17 16:54:37
What a great video...looks like such a fun time. Both girls look great!
Posted by Debbie on 2010-12-17 18:31:32
Just Awesome!
Posted by Dorothy on 2010-12-17 19:03:02
Thanks for sharing the "good" things this week! I love that you share the good and the bad....the reality of SMA. I love the video of the the girls exploring the world around them. Can't wait to read the next update of "good" things in Gwendolyn world.
Posted by Tammy Duke on 2010-12-17 21:01:49
Love the "good things". The video was awesome. I loved seeing the girls so interested in everthing that was going on. You are a very special couple.
Posted by Carol on 2010-12-17 21:53:29
Great weekend. Hayden and Gwendolyn look so happy together. A BFF is very important to girls. I am so glad the news is looking better and you were able to enjoy your time as a family and share the experience with such dear friends wo truly do know how you feel. --Mari
Posted by Mari aka "Thorney" on 2010-12-19 23:40:41
WOW! Amazing techno-techniques! What a wonderful day ~ Gwendolyn's eyes speak volumes....and are SO beautiful. I smiled through the whole video to see the girls and their moms and dads sharing such a great California experience!
Posted by Sharron Clemons on 2010-12-21 13:43:00
[...] December 2010: Monterey Bay Aquarium [...]
Posted by Getting Out With A Child With Spinal Muscular Atrophy or Other Disability | Gwendolyn Strong on 2011-02-16 08:40:53

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